Meadville City Council is moving forward with a plan to protect tenants from landlord retaliation.

In a 4-1 vote, today, Meadville City Council approved an anti-retaliation ordinance.

For months, residents of Connect 55 Meadville have been protesting after receiving word that their rent rates are going up 40 percent upon their next renewal.

According to Meadville Mayor Jaime Kinder, several of the residents who protested have been informed that their leases are not being renewed.

"Because they protested, we had a couple of them who were made an example of and their leases were not renewed," said Mayor Kinder. "What we've done is just made it so everyone here in Meadville is protected."

The new ordinance protects tenants for protesting or criticizing their landlords in public meetings or in the media.

However, tenants claiming retaliation must prove that they were evicted for participating in a protected activity.

"We think that that is important that evictions are basically just cause, they're for good reason," said Mayor Kinder. "We want to make sure we keep people where they live, and we are treating them with respect and dignity."

Members of Landlords United LLC say the ordinance will harm landlords in Meadville.

"The last thing we want to do is evict someone," said Landlords United LLC member Bob Rogers. "If there is a problem, we want to be able to get rid of them and what they are doing is making it almost impossible for us to get rid of the person."

Connect 55 Meadville is developed by the company Calamar out of Wheatfield, New York.

Calamar's general counsel Cheryl Green released the following statement to Erie News Now:

"Please be advised that not a single resident received a written “Notice of Non-Renewal” at the Connect 55+ Meadville property and as such, information relied upon by Meadville Council Members provided by any third-party is inaccurate and false. Certain residents who had received promotional rents when they moved in voluntarily elected to non-renew their leases and provided written notice that they would be terminating their leases at the expiration of their term. We are proud that the residents in our active lifestyle communities enjoy Connect55+’s unique lifestyle programming."

This story is supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.