If a tenant is unlawfully evicted from a rental or the landlord notifies the tenant of his intent to terminate a lease because of a breach, the tenant may be entitled to remedies. State law varies, but available remedial options include moving out of the rental, curing the breach, fixing the problem and damages.
In most states, before a landlord can lawfully remove a tenant, the landlord must provide the tenant with notice of the intent to terminate the rental agreement because of the breach. The tenant, in many cases, has the right to cure the breach and remain in the rental. If, for example, the tenant has failed to pay rent, the tenant can cure the violation by paying rent. If the tenant fails to cure the violation, the landlord can file an eviction action against the tenant. In this circumstance, the tenant must respond to the complaint with an answer in order to avoid a default judgment in favor of the landlord.
A constructive eviction occurs when a landlord interferes, in some way, with a tenant's use of a rental. A constructive eviction does not require the physical removal of a tenant. A constructive eviction occurs when a landlord interferes with the quiet enjoyment of a tenant's occupation of the rental. For instance, the failure of a landlord to provide a rental with heat, water or electricity is a constructive eviction. Depending on state law, the tenant may have the right to fix the problem and deduct the amount from the rent or to move out without being in breach of the contract.
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In every state, the law dictates the procedure a landlord must follow when evicting a tenant. A landlord may not evict a tenant by changing the locks, removing the tenant's property from the rental or by shutting off the utilities. This is referred to as a self-help eviction and is a violation of the law. A tenant may be entitled to damages from a landlord if wrongfully evicted. The tenant may be able to recover special damages, such as lost profits.
A tenant may be entitled to the specific remedy of damages if a landlord is guilty of wrongful eviction or constructive eviction. A tenant can sue for a variety of claims, including slander, libel, assault, trespass or wrongful eviction. Available damages include compensation for the cost of acquiring temporary housing, reimbursement for lost or damaged property or damages in an amount equal to two or three month's rent.
Jessica McElrath has been a freelance writer since 2000. McElrath is the author of "The Everything John F. Kennedy Book" and "The Everything Martin Luther King Jr. Book." McElrath has a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University School of Law.