Skip to main content
Find a Lawyer
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Find a Lawyer

More Options

5 Tell-Tale Signs that an Eviction is Illegal

By Neetal Parekh | Last updated on

Some landlord-tenant relationships are compatible matches that leave both parties fulfilled and satisfied; however others, are the stuff that nightmares are made of.  If you are a tenant who finds yourself in the latter category, you may suspect that the landlord is trying to evict you.  Evictions can be legal, but they must be filed in court and ordered by a judge. 

If you notice any of the following, you may be the victim of an illegal eviction:

1. You come home to find your personal belongings on the curb.

2. The door is padlocked shut.

3. Your gas, electricity, heat, or water has been turned off or tampered with.

4. Your property has been destroyed.

5. The landlord has allowed the rental property to become uninhabitable.

Self-help evictions are illegal in virtually all states.  A landlord must first terminate tenancy by first giving you written notice, and then filing a lawsuit--commonly called an unlawful detainer. 

The landlord may claim to the court that the tenancy should be terminated for cause.  Common violations of a rental agreement include:

  • failing to pay rent
  • violating a term of the lease, such as a no-pets policy
  • engaging in an illegal activity on the premises or damaging the property in a significant way.

The landlord can petition for eviction even without cause, but he or she must give you adequate notice---usually 30 or 60 days. 

The eviction lawsuit offers the tenant an opportunity to appear in court and submit defenses for why he or she shouldn't be evicted.  If the judge does decide to grant the eviction, the landlord is still not authorized to remove your items from the property.  A sheriff must be present to escort the tenant (and belongings) from the property.

If you find yourself amidst an illegal eviction situation, consider taking the landlord to small claims court or contact an attorney about the best way to proceed.


Related Resources:

Was this helpful?

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:
Copied to clipboard