Wrongful Eviction Lawsuits
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What Is an Eviction?
An eviction is a legal process to remove a tenant from possession of a residential or commercial property. In order to lawfully evict a tenant, the landlord must take a series of steps and usually must file an unlawful detainer lawsuit. An unlawful detainer lawsuit has very strict and specific procedural rules that must be followed by the landlord.
What Is a Wrongful Eviction?
A wrongful eviction is an eviction of a tenant by a landlord who did not follow the state and city statutory requirements for eviction. Almost every state prohibits landlords from utilizing self-help evictions and provides penalties for landlords who break the law.
What Are Some Examples?
Any landlord who takes the law into their own hands to scare or force a tenant off may face legal action. Some of the most common acts by landlords that lead to these lawsuits are:
- Threats to the tenants health or safety
- Intimidation of the tenant
- Shutting off the tenant’s utilities such as water, heat, electricity, and gas
- Attempts to physically remove the tenant, including changing the locks or putting the tenants property on the street
- Any other action forbidden by state or city statute
What Is a Wrongful Eviction Lawsuit?
This type of lawsuit is described by a legal action brought by an evicted tenant against the landlord for not following the state and city eviction laws. Any landlord who does not follow the state and city eviction procedures is liable for wrongful eviction and may be sued for actual money damages and for other penalties, such as treble damages.
Defenses to a Wrongful Eviction Lawsuit
The fact that the tenant did not pay rent, destroyed the rental property, or otherwise acted disgracefully or offensively are not a defense to the lawsuit. A landlord must always follow the eviction laws of the state and city where the rental property is located.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Landlord tenant law is very complex, varies by city, and is constantly undergoing changes. A real estate lawyer will be able to advise you of the exact rules your state and city has regarding wrongful evictions, and can protect your rights, whether you are an owner trying avoid or a tenant pursuing a wrongful eviction civil lawsuit.
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Last Modified: 01-06-2016 09:02 PM PST
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