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

UPDATED: Mar 10, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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