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Self-help evictions can backfire on landlords

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2019 | Real Estate

Sometimes issues come up between landlords and tenants in Tennessee. A landlord may believe the tenant has breached their lease in some fashion. This can be frustrating, and the landlord may wish to retake control of the rental property as quickly as possible. It can be tempting to do this without going through the eviction process as outlined in state law. This is known as a “self-help” eviction.

Self-help evictions may seem like the answer to a problem, but they are often prohibited by state law and could even constitute landlord harassment. The eviction process must be used, no matter what the tenant has done in violation of their lease. Landlords cannot cut the utilities to the property, change the locks to the property, remove the tenant’s possessions from the property, demand that the tenant leave the property or in any other way harass threaten the tenant.

If a landlord engages in a self-help eviction rather than going through the appropriate legal processes, it could be considered an illegal removal. This could provide the grounds for the tenant to pursue a lawsuit against the landlord. Other tort actions such as trespass, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress can accompany an illegal removal. This could spell out big legal trouble for landlords.

Therefore, landlords who have reason to believe the tenant has breached their lease should go through the legal eviction procedures instead of engaging in a self-help eviction. It is important that all steps in the eviction process are properly taken for the eviction to be lawful. Landlords who are experiencing issues with their tenant and believe the tenant should be evicted should make sure they understand real estate laws regarding evictions in Tennessee before proceeding.