What are a tenants rights if a landlord locks them out?

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What are a tenants rights if a landlord locks them out?

My landlord gave me a 30 day notice, and at the end of the 30 days I told her that I was still looking for a place. She asked for key and I told her no. She then had a locksmith come out and change the locks. Later that day she handed my a 3 day to pay or quit. I asked her if I could have a copy of the key but she said no. What can I do? I’m scared that if I leave the house she not going to let me get back in to pick up my stuff.

Asked on March 10, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) If you have a written lease and you've complied with it, the landlord can't ask you to leave until the lease expires.

2) If you were on an oral or verbal lease you were a month to month tenant. The landlord may ask you to leave on 30 days notice. If you do not, she may take legal action to evict you--i.e., she can go to court--but she *can't* change the locks on you or take other action herself to get you out (so no putting your belongings out or turning off utilities).

You should consult with an attorney about this matter. You may have a legal cause of action against the landlord for improper eviction, but she may be able to sue you for rent for the days you've held over, if you stayed past your 30-day notice on an oral lease.


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