What are the repercussions for illegal lockout of a tenant?

UPDATED: Jun 9, 2012

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What are the repercussions for illegal lockout of a tenant?

I am a landlord and I subleased my apartment to a couple that were unwilling to pay their rent. When I disclosed the information with the apartment complex I was told that they could change the locks for the apartment. However the tenants that are living there called the police and reported an illegal lockout. I was just wondering what my rights are and how I can evict these people and get them out of my apartment?

Asked on June 9, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


Janet Martin / Janet Martin Attorney at Law

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

This is a multilevel question. I am assuming your lease prohibited you from subletting, and the Landlord (LL) is claiming you breached the lease by the LL's actions. First it appears the LL did change the locks illegally, regardless of whether or not you breached the lease, changing the locks without consent is not allowed, except perhaps in very particular circumstances of saftey. LL must folllow the rules of eviction and has probably been cited by the police, if not more. You didn't mention what happened with the police but presumably the matter will be taken care of correctly and legally by the LL with the police involved. As for you, it may have been your apartment, but if you breached the lease and re-rented it, it is doubtfu you have any rights left at this point because the LL probably terminated it; your subtenants can claim an illegal sublease and just stop paying you. You can not evict because you are not the "real" LL, and the "real" LL will hold you responsible for all damages including LL's cost to evict "your' improper tenants...If you work things out with the LL then that is where your rights will stem from. Otherwise doesn't look like you have any rights I can see, Unless you have a valid lease in effect with a proper subletting provision. If that exists, then you can hold LL in breach, as well as evict tenants, is the sublease provision allows it.

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