What are my rights regarding an illegal eviction?

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What are my rights regarding an illegal eviction?

I came home from work to find my apartment locks changed and what was left of my personal belonging out on the street. I had been late on my rent the previous month and had only received a notice from the management about a late fee in response. I learned that there had been a hearing held for my eviction 2 weeks ago, but that I had failed to appear in court and was now being evicted. However I was never served a summons so I was unaware that this was even taking place. I was also never given notice nor the opportunity to pay any debts still owed after judgment and prior to eviction.

Asked on July 12, 2011 under Real Estate Law, District of Columbia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

IF you were illegally evicted--including being provided with no notice of your court date--then you may have an action for illegal eviction, to seek reinstatement and/or compensation. If however you were sent everything in the correct manner (served properly) and you simply lost the court documents, etc. when they were sent to you, then you probably don't have a case.

If you think that the former, not the latter, is the case--that is, you were never provided notice--then you could apply to the court for relief from the eviction and/or seek monetary damages. You can do this on you own if you need to--contact the landlord-tenant court in your area to find out how--but ideally you should get a lawyer to help you. If you can't afford one, try contacting Legal Services. Good luck.


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