if my landlord took all of my stuff without the propper eviction process, what can I do?

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if my landlord took all of my stuff without the propper eviction process, what can I do?

Asked on November 22, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I will assume that the eviction was indeed illegal. That being the case, you should be aware that you have both criminal and civil remedies available to you. The fact is that courts frown on "self-help" evictions. If a landlord illegally removes a tenant, that tenant may sue the landlord for wrongful eviction, trespass, and (depending upon the circumstances), the intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, slander, etc.

Further, a tenant's behavior will not shield a landlord from liability; it is no defense. Instead, a court may view the landlord's actions as harassment.

In such a case, a tenant is entitled to money damages for the expenses resulting from the illegal eviction. This can include compensation for: temporary housing, food that spoiled when the electricity was cutoff or property that disappeared when the tenant was locked out. Further, some jurisdictions allow a tenant to recover damages equal to 2 or 3 months rent or 2 to 3 times their actual damages. A tenant may also be able to remain in the premises and receive free occupancy for a time or vacate the premises and collect their full security deposit.

At this point you need to consult with an attorney on the matter. If money is an issue try legal aid or a law school legal clinic (if there is one near you). Also, a tenant's rights advocacy group may be of help; see if your local Social Services can recommend one to you.


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