Can my landlord refuse to renew my lease based on the discriminatory behavior of another tenant?

UPDATED: Jul 13, 2012

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Can my landlord refuse to renew my lease based on the discriminatory behavior of another tenant?

I am an African-American female business owner, renting from the same landlord for the passed 3 years. Recently another tenant moved into the space next to mine. Almost immediately, these people began to verbally harass me and accuse me of smoking in my office (which I do not do). The landlord has had several correspondences with these people and none with me. And now my lease will not be renewed. These particular tenants have verbally accosted myself and the people that work for me on more than one occasion.

Asked on July 13, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Maine


Cameron Norris, Esq. / Law Office of Gary W. Norris

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The law in Maine may be different than where I am in California, but almost all states have laws preventing intentional discrimination against renters based on classes such as religion, race, gender etc.  The problem is that you have had very little contact with the landlord and it would be really hard to show why the lease is not being renewed. 

That said, you probably do not have any legal recourse against the landlord.  You may have a cause of action for "tortious interference with business relations" against the other tenant.  When someone gets in between two other parties business agreements and harms that relationship, you can sue for their interference. 

You should consult a local attorney for more state-specific legal advice, but in the meantime I would write the landlord a letter requesting to know why your lease will not be renewed.

Best of luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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