Stories of 97-year-old cancer patients being evicted from their long-time homes by greedy landlords are shocking, and becoming more and more common. That's especially true in places like California's Bay Area where property values are skyrocketing. Many tenants are caught off guard by eviction notices, and are unaware of their legal rights.
The good news is there are ways to fight an eviction, and there are lawyers who can help.
Not all evictions are legal, and there are state laws on leases and rental agreements that can protect tenants from illegal evictions. First, landlords must abide by the terms of your written lease. No matter how valuable the property may be, or even if it's sold, you cannot be evicted before the term of your lease expires so long as your have paid your rent on time, are following the terms of the lease yourself, and are not engaging in any illegal behavior.
There are a few ways to tell if you are being illegally evicted:
- If your belongings have been removed from the property without your knowledge or consent;
- If the locks on the doors have been changed;
- If your utilities (water, electricity, gas, or heat) have been shut off or tampered with;
- If your property has been damaged or destroyed; or
- If your rental property has become uninhabitable due to landlord neglect.
These are obviously extreme cases, and there may be other ways an eviction is illegal, depending on state and local laws.
An experienced landlord-tenant attorney will be able to review the terms of the lease, and determine whether both you and the landlord are adhering to the agreement. If you do not have a written lease with your landlord, you should absolutely ask for one or create one for your landlord to sign. If you are being evicted and it is too late to sign a lease, you may still have some legal protections if you made an oral agreement with your landlord.
If you are being evicted, a lawyer may be able to help. You can contact one near you today.