Most states have laws that protect tenants from landlord retaliation when they submit complaints regarding housing safety. California law, for example, prohibits a landlord from retaliating against a tenant for complaining to an appropriate agency about the habitability of a rental unit.
The law prohibits retaliatory rent increases, service decreases, eviction, or threats of such.
In some states, localities include protections within their local laws. However, even when tenants have legal protections, they may be hindered from asserting these protections due to limited resources and insufficient availability of affordable or free legal services for low-income tenants.
Proactive PRI programs may help to reduce tenant fear of landlord retaliation, as well as actual retaliation, since the inspections and compliance actions are prompted by a municipal program rather than by tenant complaints.