Consequences for the Removal of a Tenant's Belongings Without an Eviction Notice

Written by hazel baker
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By law in every state, a landlord is not allowed to enter a rental unit and remove a tenant’s belongings, whether or not they have an eviction notice, unless it has been determined that a tenant has abandoned the property. Even when this abandonment occurs, the landlord is still required to store the tenant’s belongings for up to 60 days, and must return them to the tenant upon request.

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A landlord who removes a tenant’s belongings from a rental property can be held liable to pay the tenant up to three times the value of any lost, stolen, or damaged property, as well as any other costs incurred by the tenant, as a result of the landlord’s actions. Punitive damages may also be awarded to the tenant in some cases and under the laws of some states.

Court Costs

If a tenant sues a landlord for removing their belongings, the courts will view this action by the landlord as an illegal eviction and in most cases, will require the landlord to reimburse the tenant for court costs and attorney’s fees, if the court finds in favour of the tenant. When a landlord acts illegally, it is not uncommon for more then one hearing to take place, the costs of which the landlord may be held liable for.

No Right To Further Legal Actions

Only a sheriff authorised by the court, to do so, can remove a tenant’s belongings from the premises. A landlord who does so, in an attempt to force an eviction, may lose their right to sue the tenant for legal eviction in some states. Even if they are able to legally evict the tenant, the landlord may not be able to collect the same amount of money from the tenant for delinquent rent, damages, and other costs that they would otherwise be entitled to.

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