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What to Do If You’re Wrongfully Evicted

What to Do If You’re Wrongfully Evicted

What to Do If You’re Wrongfully Evicted


What to Do If You’re Wrongfully Evicted

Wrongful Eviction is Real in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley In cities such as San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, where tenants have rent and eviction protections, landlords have every reason to try to evict long-term residents to raise their prices. That's why knowing what steps to take if you're wrongfully evicted is so important. The only way to hold your landlord accountable is to know your rights and how to fight for them. 

If you've been wrongfully evicted, it's important to take immediate and appropriate actions to protect your rights. The longer you wait, the more evidence may be lost and the harder it can be to achieve justice for your losses.

Here's what you can do if you are being forced out of your home due to poor living conditions, harassment or wrongful eviction:

  1. Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all communications with your landlord, notices received, and any other relevant documents (like your lease agreement and records of rent payments). Document the condition of the property when you leave and any belongings left behind. 
  2. Seek Legal Advice: Contact a lawyer specializing in tenant rights. They can provide guidance specific to your situation and your local laws. In cases of wrongful eviction, a tenant lawyer can discuss options for suing your landlord.
  3. Understand Your Rights: Familiarize yourself with tenant rights and eviction laws in San Francisco. There are many resources such as the Tenant’s Union and Housing Rights Committee where tenants can meet with counselors to learn more about their rights. This knowledge can help you in discussions with your landlord or in a legal setting.
  4. Report the Eviction: If the eviction was carried out without a court order, report it to to the San Francisco Rent Board. In many places, 'self-help' evictions (like changing locks, removing belongings, shutting off utilities) are illegal.
  5. Secure Your Belongings: If you're able to, remove your personal belongings from the property. If the landlord has locked you out or is withholding your belongings, a legal professional can advise you on the steps to regain access to your possessions.
  6. Seek Temporary Housing: If you need immediate housing, look for local shelters, family and friends, or organizations that can provide temporary assistance.
  7. Maintain Communication Records: Keep a record of all interactions with your landlord and other relevant parties, as these can be important in legal proceedings.
  8. Stay Informed About Deadlines: Legal actions have deadlines, or statutes of limitations. Don’t delay in contacting an attorney in order to ensure that you don't miss the opportunity for legal recourse.

Remember, each situation is unique, and the best course of action depends on the specifics of your case and the laws in your jurisdiction. Legal advice is crucial in navigating the complexities of eviction laws and tenant rights.

How Do Wrongful Eviction Lawsuits Work?

Wrongful eviction is a scenario no tenant wants to face. It's a stressful and often confusing process, especially if you're not familiar with the legal system. Even fighting back can seem overwhelming if you don't know what to expect. 

However, with the help of an experienced attorney, the legal process of pursuing an unlawful eviction lawsuit may be less difficult than you realize. Here's how these proceedings work and what to expect during the process. 

Step 1: Identifying a Wrongful Eviction

A wrongful eviction in San Francisco typically involves an eviction without just cause, or failing to follow legal eviction procedures. Recognizing these elements is the first step in filing a claim. Examples include: being told you have to move because your landlord wants to sell the building, getting an eviction notice by email, moving out pursuant to an owner move in eviction and later learning your landlord did not move in.

Step 2: Gathering Evidence

Proving that you were forced out illegally is critical. Tenants must gather all relevant documentation, including rental agreements, eviction notices, correspondences with the landlord, photos, and any other evidence that can substantiate their claim.

Step 3: Seeking Legal Consultation

Consulting with an attorney experienced in San Francisco's tenant laws is advisable. A tenant’s rights attorney can assess the validity of the claim, explain the tenant's rights, and outline the legal options available.

Step 4: Filing the Claim

Tenants who want to pursue claims against their former landlord for wrongful or constructive eviction will typically need to file a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court with the assistance of a tenant attorney. There are time restrictions on how long a tenant has to file a lawsuit, so it is important to speak with a tenant lawyer as soon as possible if you have been wrongfully or constructively evicted.

San Francisco Rent Board 

For tenants who are still living in their rental unit, the San Francisco Rent Board is a valuable resource. The Rent Board provides tenants with a way to dispute illegal rent increases and bring claims for minor repair issues.  A tenant attorney can also help evaluate whether the Rent Board is a good approach to dealing with your tenant issues versus filing a lawsuit or other remedy.

Court Proceedings

Most wrongful eviction cases will need to be filed in Superior Court. Lawsuits can take months or even years to resolve. Once the case has been filed you'll need to have your landlord served with the complaint so they are aware of your claim. 

Your landlord will have 30 days to respond to your complaint. If they do not answer, you may win by default. However, if they respond, you'll move into the pre-trial proceedings. 

First, you'll participate in discovery, in which both parties exchange evidence and information, which may include depositions, requests for documents, and interrogatories. Additionally, either party may file pre-trial motions, such as a motion to dismiss the case or a motion for summary judgment.

If the case goes to trial, both parties present their evidence and arguments. This can be before a judge or a jury, depending on the nature of the case and the preferences of the parties involved. Witnesses, including the tenant and landlord, may be called to testify. The plaintiff must prove that the eviction was wrongful according to the legal standards of the jurisdiction.

If the court finds in your favor, you may be awarded monetary and punitive damages depending on the circumstances of your claim. However, either party can appeal the court's decision to a higher court if they believe legal errors were made.

Step 5: Possible Settlements

Most wrongful eviction cases are settled outside of court. Settlements can provide a quicker resolution and are often less costly. Your attorney will help you negotiate a fair settlement that includes fair compensation for your losses.

If you believe you have been wrongfully evicted, it's best to speak with an attorney right away. At Wolford Wayne, we represent tenants, not landlords. Contact us today to speak with an eviction lawyer about your case.

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