Another possible approach to reforming retaliatory eviction statutes would place the burden on the landlord to show that the tenant being evicted after reporting substandard conditions was in arrears on her rent for a greater amount or for a longer time than other tenants the landlord has chosen not to evict.
But if the IWH is to be a meaningful doctrine, some effort to give real power to the retaliatory eviction doctrine is necessary.
None of the casebooks address this point, but rather give the impression that the statutory prohibitions against retaliatory eviction meaningfully protect tenants who complain about substandard conditions.
48) At the same time, the Singer casebook also excerpts a model retaliatory eviction statute that on its face provides no protection from retaliatory eviction when the tenant is in arrears for rent at the time the tenant complains about code violations: Section 5.
Unlike changes in statutes regarding eviction records or retaliatory eviction statutes, changes in property casebooks and curriculums are straightforward to implement.
While Desmond's universal voucher proposal would directly undermine the pernicious Eviction Economy, there are less sweeping, more politically feasible reforms, such as sealing eviction records and reforming retaliatory eviction doctrine, that would represent sensible first steps in addressing the plight of low-income, urban tenants.
Technically, a renter who is not yet behind in her rent could complain about conditions and be protected from a retaliatory eviction but once the conditions were repaired and the tenant fell behind in her rent at some point in the future, the landlord would be free to evict her.