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What is an Illegal Eviction?

Your landlord is illegally evicting you if they change the locks, use force without involving the courts, or falsify just cause for eviction.


An illegal eviction is when your landlord locks you out of your apartment or pushes you out with force instead of following your state's guidelines for evicting tenants. If a landlord creates a reason for evicting you that's false or exaggerated then that could also be considered an illegal eviction.

Illegal lockouts

If your landlord tries to illegally evict you then you can call the police right away. In many states, police offers get specific training about what to do in this situation. For example in New York, the NYPD's training manual tells officers to arrest and charge the landlord if they get called into an illegal eviction situation. In Texas a landlord has to follow a painstaking process for changing the locks to your rental unit if they want to go lock you out legally.

In some states, even if your landlord does have a court order to evict you they still need to get a member of local law enforcement to make you leave instead of doing it on their own.

Faking "just cause"

The other common way that a landlord may try to illegally evict you is by falsifying just cause or not having just cause for eviction. In general, if you're on the lease, your landlord has to have a reason like nonpayment of rent or a breach of the lease in order to evict you. Your landlord can't say you've breached the lease when you haven't, change the lease after you signed it to make it seem like you breached it or evict you for doing something that isn't a breach of the lease.

Next steps

Every state has specific guidance on what is and what isn't just cause - so read up on your state's eviction laws if you think your landlord is thinking about evicting you for something that wouldn't meet the criteria.

You should also check in to make sure you meet the criteria for a tenant.


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