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There are other proper grounds for termination available to the landlord that are not considered retaliatory. Of course, if you received a notice of termination at the end of the lease before you gave the landlord notice to repair, you are not protected. This is why it is a good idea to give the first repair notice in writing, date it, and make a copy for your protection. There may be another exception to obtaining retaliation damages if the landlord legally closes down the premises, but you are typically entitled to damages in this situation. See "Condemned or Closing Property."

If the landlord engages in activity that constitutes unlawful retaliation, you may file a lawsuit and seek a court order against your landlord awarding you: (1) one month's rent, plus $500; (2) the reasonable costs to move to another place and other actual damages; and (3) attorney's fees and court costs. But remember, the landlord will win if she can prove that her actions were not for purposes of retaliation.

Withholding Rent Is Almost Always a Bad Idea Your landlord can be awarded actual damages plus other statutory penalties (and she can probably terminate your right to possession and evict you) if you withhold any portion of your rent without an agreement, unless: (1) you first obtain a court order permitting you to do so; (2) you have properly repaired and deducted as described above; or (3) you have lawfully terminated your lease because of the landlord's unlawful behavior with regard to repairs and you are using your deposit as rent, as described above. If you improperly try to use your deposit as rent, you may be liable for three times the amount you withheld, in addition to the landlord’s attorney’s fees. See "Warning."

Improving or Changing the Premises If you change the premises and reduce its value, the landlord can hold you responsible. Even if the change increases the value, a tenant has no absolute right to make an alteration and could be responsible for returning the premises to its original condition. If you require a reasonable modification that is related to your disabilit , for example a wheelchair ramp, your landlord must allow you to install one, at your expense, if it necessary for you to use the housing. (Tenants in public and subsidized housing have additional rights; for example, you may not need to pay for reasonable modifications for your disability.) See “Landlord’s Duty to Accommodate Tenants with Disabilities.” If you want to install a bookcase, hang a chandelier, paint the walls, lay carpet, or make other alterations, discuss your idea with your landlord. Get the landlord’s permission first, and you might try to get the landlord to agree to let you deduct the costs from your next month's rent. Determine whether you can take the addition with you when you move. Then put your agreement in writing. If an agreement cannot be reached, get further advice from an attorney or tenant association.

Condemned or Closing Property The landlord may decide to close the rental property where you live for a variety of reasons. A landlord CANNOT close down the property in the middle of a lease term (with or without notice) without breaking her agreement with you. If the landlord does this, she can be liable for


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