What are our rights if we’re are living with friends and pay rent but they said that we were late in paying so changed the locks and took our stuff?

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What are our rights if we’re are living with friends and pay rent but they said that we were late in paying so changed the locks and took our stuff?

We have a verbal agreement that we can pay at any time as long as we pay rent during the month. However, 3 days ago they said we were late on rent and they changed the locks and started packing our stuff, even putting our TV on the curb. They are drunk 24/7 and there is no reasoning with them. What can we do?

Asked on June 14, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you were paying rent, then you were a tenant (even though you apparently were also friends with the landlord). If you are a tenant, the landlord may NOT evict you by simply changing the locks, but first has to give you an eviction notice and then, if you did not leave, go to court and get a court judgment allowing them to evict. If they evict without doing this, they committed an illegal eviction and you can bring your own legal action seeking to be let back in and also seeking compensation. In addition no landlord may EVER take the tenant's belongings like this--doing so is theft, and you could sue them for theft and possibly also press charges.

You have rights and legal claims. If possible, hire an attorney to help you. If you can't afford an attorney or don't want to hire one, go to your country court, speak to the clerk, and ask for instructions as to what you may file to seek re-entry, compensation for the eviction, and compensation for anything the landlord took or destroyed. You will be filing one or more lawsuits (sometimes you have to file claims for compensation separately from getting put back in the unit), but can do so yourself (though again, an attorney is recommended) if you need to. Good luck.


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