What to do if I was wrongfully evicted?

I was called around the 10th of last month and asked when I was planning to pay my rent. I told them on the 15th. I was visiting family out of state trying to figure out my financial situation. While gone, my former roommate (removed from lease several months ago) entered the apartment and removed all of his belongings. He told that office that I moved and without verifying, they cleaned out what was left in my apartment and charged me fees for trash removal, painting, and new carpet. They also want rent for the remaining months of the lease (5 months). Do they have the right to clean my apartment without me giving notice?

Asked on June 5, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You can only be evicted by court order or if you have voluntarily surrendered possession of the apartment; another person may not surrender possession on your behalf--certainly not a person who himself has no right to possession (you say he was removed from the lease). Even if you did surrender possession, the landlord may not simply throw out your belongings. And even when your lease has expired, or you voluntarily surrendered possession, or you were evicted, you cannot be charged for normal end-of-occupancy cleaning, or for new carpeting, or painting, etc., unless such is required by some damage you specifically did (for example, you had pets, and they urinated on the rug and scratched up the paint).

From what you write, you would seem to a claim against the  landlord for illegal eviction, which could result  in you being reinstated in the premises and also recovering monetary compensation; you would also seem to have a claim for the value of the belongings they threw away or discarded. You should consult with a landlord-tenant attorney about bringing a lawsuit to vindicate your rights.

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