Can a landlord evict me for putting in a complaint?

I want to makea complaint against my landlord regarding people illegally living in the attic. I came to find out that they are living off my power, so therefore my gas and electric bill are extremely high. I’m curious to know, can my landlord have me evicted for me complaining on his illegal rental?

Asked on March 13, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In virtually all jurisdictions, such an action is illegal. It is known as "retaliatory eviction".  It occurs when a landlord attempts to evict a tenant in response to a legal action taken by the tenant. However, while most states have specific laws outlawing this, a tenant may have to prove in court that a landlord's conduct was retaliatory. In some cases, the law assumes such conduct on the landlord's part if the tenant engages in certain activities within a specified amount of time and is then served an eviction notice. The burden is then on the landlord to prove that his conduct was not retaliatory, and that that the eviction was reasonable and legal.  Local laws may allow a tenant who has been the victim of retaliatory eviction to sue for damages (actual and punitive). plus attorney fees.

Also, as to the tenants using your power, this is a crime known as "conversion"; theft of services is taken quite seriously and you have a claim against them (and possibly your landlord as well).  At this point you should contact a tenant's rights organization or attorney in your immediate area who specializes in landlord/tenant matters.


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