When Is It Illegal for Landlords to Retaliate in New Mexico?
It’s illegal for New Mexico landlords to retaliate withraised rent,reduced services,orthreatened evictionagainst tenants who have taken one of the following protected actions in the past six months:
Complaining to the landlord or the government about failure to maintain the property.
Participating in a tenant organization.
Pursuing rights or remedies given by New Mexico’s landlord-tenant law.
Being involved in a lawsuit against the landlord that relates to the rental property.
Abating (withholding) some or all of the rent according to the proper legal procedure.
The law allows an exception when the landlord can prove a non-retaliatory, good-faith reason for the alleged retaliatory action. For example, a landlord who raises rent proportionately in response to a large increase in property tax is not retaliating, even if a tenant has recently complained about maintenance.
What Can Tenants Do in Response in New Mexico?
New Mexico tenants can respond to landlord retaliation bysuing for quiet enjoyment of the property.The tenant can also recover a civil penalty equal to two months’ rent, plus court costs and attorney fees.
“An owner may not retaliate against a resident who is in compliance with the rental agreement and not otherwise in violation of any provision of the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act by increasing rent, decreasing services or by bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession because the resident has within the previous six months: (1) complained to a government agency charged with responsibility for enforcement of a minimum building or housing code of a violation applicable to the premises materially affecting health and safety; (2) organized or become a member of a residents’ union, association or similar organization; (3) acted in good faith to exercise his rights provided under the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act, including when the resident makes a written request or complaint to the owner to make repairs to comply with the owner’s obligations under Section 47-8-20 NMSA 1978.”
“An owner may not retaliate against a resident who (4) made a fair housing complaint to a government agency charged with authority for enforcement of laws or regulations prohibiting discrimination in rental housing; (5) prevailed in a lawsuit as either plaintiff or defendant or has a lawsuit pending against the owner relating to the residency; (6) testified on behalf of another resident; or (7) abated rent in accordance with the provisions of Section 47-8-27.1 or 47-8-27.2 NMSA 1978.”
“B. If the owner acts in violation of Subsection A of this section, the resident is entitled to the remedies provided in Section 47-8-48 NMSA 1978 and the violation shall be a defense in any action against him for possession.
“C. Notwithstanding the provisions of Subsection A of this section, the owner may increase the rent or change services upon appropriate notice at the end of the term of the rental agreement or as provided under the terms of the rental agreement if the owner can establish that the increased rent or changes in services are consistent with those imposed on other residents of similar rental units and are not directed at the particular resident, but are uniform.”
“A. If suit is brought by any party to the rental agreement to enforce the terms and conditions of the rental agreement or to enforce any provisions of the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act, the prevailing party shall be entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs to be assessed by the court.
“B. Any owner who violates a provision of Section 47-8-36 or 47-8-39 NMSA 1978 shall be subject to a civil penalty equal to two times the amount of the monthly rent.
“C. Any resident who intentionally violates a provision of Subsection F of Section 47-8-22 NMSA 1978 shall be subject to a civil penalty equal to two times the amount of the monthly rent.”