Wrongful Eviction: What's A Tenant To Do?


If you are a tenant and thought that you’ve been a great renter, but are being evicted, you may be experiencing a wrongful eviction. In any eviction proceeding, you should get notice that the landlord is terminating your tenancy and they should provide adequate time to leave the premises and/or remedy the problem within a given timeframe after you have received the notice.

If you don’t move or fix the issue, they can start an eviction proceeding, which usually entails filing a lawsuit, and is sometimes called an Unlawful Detainer (UD). Landlords are required to know and follow the local and state procedures during the eviction of a tenant. If they don’t, the tenant may have legal recourse he/she can undertake.  

Wrongful Eviction
  • If your landlord changes the locks or otherwise blocks entry into your rental unit.
  • If your landlord removes your belongings and gets rid of them.
  • Even if a court orders an eviction, in most areas, the landlord can’t just move you and your things. Local law enforcement will normally get involved and escort you and your belongings off the property.
Reasons for Wrongful Eviction
  • Eviction without terminating the tenancy
  • Eviction without proper court actions
  • Eviction due to your request for repairs
  • Discrimination
Really, the most important thing to do if you feel that you are involved in a wrongful eviction is to contact an eviction attorney. Landlord tenant law is complicated and varies from state to state. A local real estate attorney will be well versed in landlord tenant law as well as eviction law in your area and can work to protect your rights in the situation.

Additionally, the lawyer can help you to determine if the case is one where you should fight the eviction or simply move. If you lose an eviction lawsuit, the costs can be enormous, plus it can damage your credit rating and your ability to rent in the future.

Wrongful Eviction Court cases

Damages can be awarded should a court decide that indeed you were unlawfully evicted.

A jury awarded $860,000 to victims in Hamilton County, Tennessee, when they found that the landlord improperly evicted the tenants and destroyed their belongings.

In Queens, New York, a landlord was ordered to pay $500,000 to a single dad whom she evicted and then threw his belongings out into the rain.

In Oakland, California, tenants in public housing reached a settlement with the Housing Authority in a wrongful eviction case that provides for the 19 tenants to keep their rental units and for the Housing Authority to pay the legal fees associated with the case.

In Orlando, Florida, a convenience store owner will be re-opening his shop complete with new appliances, a walk-in cooler, and $30,000 worth of supplies now that the landlord dropped his lawsuit due to the police stating the grounds he used for eviction were not valid.

Possible Defenses to Wrongful Eviction
  • Shoddy eviction paperwork
  • Landlord’s illegal behavior
  • Eviction is in retaliation for your continued request for required key repairs
  • Eviction is based upon discrimination
Real estate law is complicated and can vary from state to state. It is important to speak with an eviction attorney who specializes in real estate law before making any hasty decisions.