Landlord trying to force me to sign an lease that eliminates my rights
My landlord wants to negotiate a new lease and wants to eliminate provisions allowing disabled tenants to have a service animal and provisions allowing me to make modifications at my expense and with the agreement that I will return the apartment to the origianl condition upon leaving. I have refused to sign a lease that does not contain these legal provisions for the past two years and have been renting month-to-month for this period. He now wants me to sigh a new lease again, and has raised the rent over market value for the area. I feel he is doing so because he wants me to move. I recently had surgery and cannot physically move myself at this time as I am not allowed to lift anything over 5 pounds.
He raised my rent this year by 13% and over 50% from my original lease. He also did not raise the rent of another (male) tenant at all. In the past he has always raised all of the rents when he raised one. I think he is trying to force me out. What can I do?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Re: Landlord trying to force me to sign an lease that eliminates my rights
You should repost this under a section that deals with landlord/tenant and/or housing issues because your issue deals with discrimination under the Fair Housing Act and amendments, as well as possibly other laws.
I do not practice in this area so can not say for certain, but I believe the landlord's conduct in this case, if it is as described by you, runs afoul of the law. In the least, landlords may not treat disabled people differently than any other tenants. There is always the question, though, of whether the person in question is considered "disabled" under the law. If not, then there is no protection.
Here is a site you can visit for some info: http://www.bazelon.org/issues/housing/infosheets/fhinfosheet5.html. I do not have any connection with this site. I just found it in a brief search on the web. You may wish to contact the person listed, or some other attorney who handles landlord/tenant matters. You can get a referral from the Maryland State Bar Association. (www.MSBA.org.)
You can also call the state attorney general's office - they may be able to point you in the direction of an agency where you can file a complaint.
Also, in the meantime, you may try discussing with your landlord that he appears to be violating the law by discriminating against you - see if that gets you anywhere.
Be aware, though, that since you do not have a lease, either you or he can terminate the arrangement with proper notice. He can not do so for discriminatory reasons, but that would not help you much if you are in the process of being evicted and have to fight it. The point is to tread lightly and be reasonable and diplomatic, not accusatory, in all your communications and dealings with the landlord.
Again, this is not my area of expertise, so please seek competent advise. But I hope this helps a bit.
Jeffrey L. Sheldon, Esquire
The Sheldon Law Firm
6932 Mayfair Road
Laurel, MD 20707
Disclaimer: This posting does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. It is not confidential, nor is it privileged, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult with an attorney for advice specific to the facts of your case.