It shall be unlawful for any landlord ratepayer or agent or employee thereof to threaten or take reprisals against a tenant because the tenant exercised his rights under section 7 or 9. 1 Any landlord ratepayer, or agent or employee thereof who threatens or takes such reprisals against any tenant shall be liable for damages which shall be two months' rent or the actual damages sustained by the tenant, whichever is greater, and the costs of suit and reasonable attorney's fees. The receipt of any notice of termination of tenancy, an increase in rent or of any substantial alteration in the terms of tenancy within six months after the tenant has acted pursuant to section 7 or 9 to avoid discontinuance of utility service, shall create a rebuttable presumption that such notice is a reprisal against the tenant for exercising his rights under section 7 or 9. However, the presumption shall not arise if the notice of termination of tenancy is for nonpayment of rent not withheld under section 9 or lawfully withheld under any other right that the tenant may have under law.
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