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This is an illegal eviction and you have the right to call a locksmith and the police and have them meet you there at the property so you can regain entry. The landlord has no legal right to lock you out, even if there is mold, and has a legal obligation to pay for any temporary housing for you until repairs are made so you can move back in.
They don't get to terminate the lease and lock you out and you can also sue the landlord in small claims court for up to $10,000 for the illegal lockout. Judges tend to be very hard on landlords who engage in these illegal actions.
As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a landlord for over 26 years...
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I am more than happy to continue on the website though..
In California can we go back and change the locks and not get in trouble?
You haven't been legally evicted, so yes, you have the right to legal possession. That is why I mentioned calling a locksmith and regaining entry with a police escort. The landlord has to property terminate your tenancy if they want you out, not just change the locks...that is illegal and gives you a rock solid cause of action to sue them..
Even if you just had a locksmith out to change the locks, the landlord can do nothing...you can't break into your own legal dwelling..
Rather...you can't be considered to be illegally breaking into your own dwelling... you have a right to use and occupancy
Yes, regain entry, then the next day, go to the local courthouse and file a $10,000 small claims lawsuit against them for breach of contract, conversion of your personal property, and illegal eviction.
It very well might if the judge were to feel that all your claims should have been heard at once....the illegal eviction, the conversion, and the breach of contract.
So if you have damages that high, you would want to hire a local attorney to represent you and sue in a higher court and even add in the additional costs for higher rent, eating out, etc. that you incur..
And I would also contact the state Dept of Insurance and file a formal complaint against the landlord's insurer for "unfair claims practices" if they refuse to even entertain a claim filed by you.. The DOI can lean on them and threaten them if they don't open a claim.
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And if you had health issues that could be tied to the mold, you may have a personal injury case against the landlord as well..
I can only imagine how difficult this has been and their response is just almost textbook what not to do...
You are very welcome. Happy to help any time. I hope everything works out for you and you get some justice here..
It was my pleasure to work with you and help with your question. If you ever need me in the future, you can post a new question with "For Barrister" in the caption and the JustAnswer employees will get it to me.
All the best to you and yours