As a renter, you might find yourself in a situation where the owner of the property tries to force you out, by cutting power, water, gas, or generally attempting to make using the property as difficult and unsustainable as possible. Is that legal? If not, then what is it?

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It’s Illegal Eviction

Such actions taken by the landlord against their tenant are considered to be constructive eviction. In contrast with standard eviction, the constructive variant involves no legal proceedings, but simply attempts to make the property uninhabitable. These are usually the aforementioned refusals to provide basic amenities to the property, such as heating or water. But it may also include deliberately interfering with the tenant, with the goal of ruining the tenant's quiet enjoyment of the property. This could include playing loud or obnoxious music, harassment, or otherwise attempting to force the tenant out. However, in order to be able to claim that such an eviction took place, the tenant is required to vacate the property in a reasonable time.

How to Handle the Situation

If you have fallen victim to constructive eviction, you can take steps against the landlord. These may, however, depend on a number of factors. The most basic requirement is that you prove that you informed the landlord of the conditions that may force you to leave the property. In some states, you may also be required to remain in the property for a certain amount of time before abandoning it in order to claim that eviction took place. The remedies you can pursue against your former landlord may include release from rent obligations in the lease agreement, as well as covering damages that arose as a result of eviction, including moving expenses and damage to your property.

If you're facing constructive eviction, ask a lawyer for advice on how to protect your rights.


Get started Visit our Tenant Center Get tenant documents and ask a lawyer your questions.