Can a Landlord Evict Someone Without the Courts?

Can a Landlord Evict Someone Without the Courts?
••• Jupiterimages/ Images

Can a landlord evict you if there is no lease? Yes, they may. And there may be nothing you can do about it. So, it helps to understand the eviction process, what makes it valid, and how to safeguard your interests as a tenant.

Typically, eviction refers to a process whereby a landlord removes a tenant from their rental property. A landlord can't evict you without giving written notice, going to the court and winning the case. If your landlord tires to evict you from your rental property without going to the court, you may be able to protect yourself.

Identifying a Legal Violation

Can you be evicted without a court order? Such a situation is highly unlikely if the property owner follows the law. Without a court order called the Warrant of Eviction, your landlord can't evict you from your home. Your landlord violates the law if he or she does so.

Some illegal actions your landlord may take to force you to move out include changing the locks or padlocking the doors to keep you out, placing your furniture and other property outside, removing the doors to force you to leave and shutting off the utilities.

Steps to Take

If your landlord tries to evict you illegally, you can take legal action to stop him. Otherwise, you face being evicted with no place to go. Call the police or sheriff and tell him that your landlord is trying to force you to move out without a Warrant of Eviction.

Local law enforcement should help you stop the landlord so that you can stay in the rental property peacefully. If the police won't help you, you can call a lawyer for advice. You may be able to get a court order to force the landlord to stop, and you may also get monetary compensation for your landlord's illegal action.

The amount of compensation you get will depend on where you reside. For example, in Arizona, you could get ​two months’​ worth of rent or twice your actual damages, whichever is greater, if your landlord illegally evicts you.

Cause of Eviction

If you have a written lease, your landlord has to provide a reason for the eviction. He can only evict you if the lease is up, if you owe rent or if you violate the terms of the lease agreement.

Your landlord has to prove the reason in court. If you don't have a written lease and stay in the property as a month-to-month tenant, your landlord may not have to give you a reason for the eviction. And that is why it helps to have a written contract with your landlord.

The Eviction Process

To evict you, your landlord has to follow a certain set of procedures, depending on the local laws. First, the property owner has to demand that you stop violating your lease agreement, for example, by paying any past-due rent.

If you fail to do this, your landlord may file a complaint against you in court to start the eviction process. During a court hearing, the landlord states her case, and you have an opportunity to raise your defenses. If the landlord wins the case, she can get the sheriff to evict you.

Read More​: Foreclosure & Eviction