Leasing space in the San Francisco area is difficult given housing and commercial space shortages as well as the cost of rent. Given this reality, you might find yourself in a difficult position where you have to balance your ability to retain your property while still ensuring that your standard of living is sufficient. This means paying your rent on time but also holding your landlord accountable for code violations and breaches of the lease.
All too often, though, calling your landlord out for wrongdoing results in retaliation. This could even include eviction.
How eviction must occur
Your landlord can’t force you out of your unit without a court order. That’s the law in California, so if you’ve been forced to leave under other circumstances, then you’ve been wrongfully evicted. Unfortunately, though, all too often landlords try to constructively evict their tenants by doing the following:
- Changing locks on doors
- Removing doors or windows from the unit
- Removing personal possessions from the unit
- Cutting off utilities to the unit
- Threatening you with force or legal action
Don’t be duped by these actions. You can stay in your unit. But if you’ve been wrongfully evicted, then you can take legal action in hopes of reoccupying the space and recovering compensation for damages that have been caused to you.
Other forms of wrongful eviction
Wrongful eviction can occur in a myriad of ways. Here are some others that you could be susceptible to:
- Construction: Your landlord might claim that they have to evict you from your unit because of demolition or repairs. If they do this, then they should start the construction shortly after your departure. If they don’t, then you can seek to hold them accountable for wrongful eviction.
- Owner move-in: If you’re evicted so that the owner or one of the owner’s relatives can move into the unit, then certain timeframes must be met. If the owner or relative doesn’t occupy the unit within those timeframes, or if the unit isn’t used as the owner’s primary residence, then you’ve likely been wrongfully evicted. Also, if the owner uses that excuse to fraudulently remove you from the property, then you have a claim against them.
- Evictions under the Ellis Act: If you were evicted from your unit under the Ellis Act, which allows evictions when landlords are going out of business or change the use of the building, then you should be given the option to re-lease the property if it’s put on the market within certain timeframes. If you’re not given that option, then you can sue.
What should you do if claims of illegal eviction arise?
Regardless of whether you’re a tenant or a landlord, you’ll need to gather evidence to protect your interests. This might include written communications that you’ve had with the other party, as well as witness testimony. But you’ll also need to understand the law so that you can argue it in your favor.
This can be challenging, for sure, given the complexities in California’s landlord-tenant laws. But don’t let the difficulties you might face dissuade you from taking the action necessary to protect yourself or your business. Instead, do what you can to prepare yourself for the road ahead while mitigating your damages. Hopefully then you can achieve the outcome that you want. So, if you’re ready to learn more about how to address a wrongful eviction lawsuit, then now is the time to get to work.