What is Self-Help Eviction in California?
California has strict laws regarding the landlord/tenant relationship, and both tenants and landlords should understand their rights, responsibilities, and restrictions. One restriction that landlords have is that they cannot engage in self-help evictions.
Even when a tenant is in serious violation of the lease agreement, a landlord cannot:
- Turn off the utilities to the property, such as electricity, heat, or water
- Have the locks changed so the tenant cannot enter their unit
- Remove the furniture or belongings of the tenant
- Take off the front door of the unit so that tenant has no privacy
All of these are versions of self-help evictions, which are evictions that do not use the proper unlawful detainer procedures required by the law.
What can a tenant do if a landlord engages in self-help eviction tactics? A tenant has the right to take legal action and seek damages from the landlord. This can include damages for monetary losses, such as if the tenant needed to pay for a hotel while they were unable to stay at their home. They can also seek punitive damages up to $100 for each day the violation occurred (such as each day the landlord did not have a door on the unit or utilities hooked up). Tenants can also recover attorney’s fees and court costs.
Tenants can use self-help eviction to file a counterclaim if the landlord later files an unlawful detainer action. Even if the proper eviction is ordered, the tenant can still seek damages as part of the case for self-help eviction.
Seek Help from an Encino Landlord/Tenant Attorney
At Urbach Law Offices, PC, we handle all types of eviction cases, and our Encino landlord/tenant lawyer can assess your best options in your situation. Contact us online or call 888.212.9072 for more information today.