What do I need to know about illegal evictions?
It is illegal for your landlord to evict you by changing the locks or turning off your utilities. Your landlord also cannot stop you from getting into the apartment. The landlord must first get a court order. This is usually called a Warrant of Eviction. Then, your landlord must ask a law enforcement officer to serve the order on you.
What are some examples of illegal evictions?
- locking or removing a tenant's door
- shutting off the utilities
- taking the tenant's property out of the apartment
What can I do if the police don’t help stop the illegal eviction?
If you are told, "Sorry, that's a civil matter," don't give up. Ask for the officer's name and badge number. Then ask to speak to the officer's supervisor.
You may be able to sue the town if the police will not even take a police report about the illegal eviction. To do this, talk to a lawyer. You would have to quickly file a Notice of Claim against the city, village, town, or state.
What else can I do?
You might be able to get "triple damages" for any losses or costs caused by the illegal eviction. You should keep proof of expenses that you had because of the illegal eviction. If you cannot get a lawyer to help you, you can sue your landlord yourself in Small Claims Court. You should know that the amount you can win there is limited.
Some cities (such as New York City) have other laws that protect tenants. Make sure you know what the law is in your town.
For more information, please see the article titled "General Eviction Information" on our web site.
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This article provides general information about this subject. Laws affecting this subject may have changed since this article was written. For specific legal advice about a problem you are having, get the advice of a lawyer. Receiving this information does not make you a client of our office.
Last Review Date: June 2016