70-33-431. Retaliatory conduct by landlord prohibited. (1) Except as provided in this section, a landlord may not retaliate by increasing rent, by decreasing services, or by bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession after the tenant:
(a) has complained of a violation applicable to the premises materially affecting health and safety to a governmental agency charged with responsibility for enforcement of a building or housing code;
(b) has complained to the landlord in writing of a violation under 70-33-303; or
(c) has organized or become a member of a tenant's union, mobile home park resident association, or similar organization.
(2) If the landlord acts in violation of subsection (1) of this section, the tenant is entitled to the remedies provided in 70-33-409 and has a defense in any retaliatory action against the tenant for possession.
(3) In an action by or against the tenant, evidence of a complaint within 6 months before the alleged act of retaliation creates a rebuttable presumption that the landlord's conduct was in retaliation. The presumption does not arise if the tenant made the complaint after notice of a proposed rent increase or diminution of services. For purposes of this subsection, "rebuttable presumption" means that the trier of fact is required to find the existence of the fact presumed unless evidence is introduced that would support a finding of its nonexistence.
(4) Subsections (1) through (3) do not prevent a landlord from bringing an action for possession if:
(a) the violation of the applicable building or housing code was caused primarily by lack of reasonable care by the tenant, a member of the tenant's family, or any other persons on the premises with the tenant's consent;
(b) the tenant is in default in rent; or
(c) compliance with the applicable building or housing code requires alteration, remodeling, or demolition that would effectively deprive the tenant of use of the lot.
(5) The maintenance of an action under subsection (4) of this section does not release the landlord from liability under 70-33-404(2).
History: En. Sec. 48, Ch. 267, L. 2007.