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ILLEGAL LOCKOUT: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

What is a lockout? 

A lockout occurs when the landlord and/or agent avoids a legal process and decide to illegally lockout a tenant from their home by changing the locks, cutting off utilities, removing doors and windows, or the out-right removal of the tenant’s personal property.

Can a landlord lockout a tenant from their apartment? NO.

A landlord cannot lock out or remove a tenant from their rental unit, even if the tenant is past due on rent or involved in eviction proceeding. The landlord must adhere to the unlawful detainer court process. Only a sheriff with a court order can execute a lockout after the tenant has been properly served with a valid notice, unlawful detainer summons, and either the tenant lost the case by default or at trial.

Can the landlord cut off utilities to force tenant to move? NO. 

The landlord cannot try to force a tenant to move by cutting off the utilities, which include water, electricity, and gas. If the landlord cuts off the water or power, the tenant should call the DWP at 1-800-342-5397 to report the issue and ask for restoration of the utility service. For gas utility shut-off call the SoCal Gas Company at 1-877-307-7070.

What to do when the landlord locks out a tenant?

Call the local police at the closest precinct to help with re-entry at LAPD’s non-emergency number at 1-877-ASK-LAPD (1-877-275-5273). Show the police officer documents the prove tenancy at the address (Example: lease, rent receipts, utility bills, DMV registration, or notices issued by landlord). Ask the police officers for a report of this incident.

What type of information should a tenant have on hand?

Carry a copy of tenancy documents, or save digital copies (images) in an email, or a secured personal device. (Example of documents: leases, rent receipts, utility bills, DMV registration, ID, or landlord issued notices). Have such copies readily available to show to the police.

Can a tenant pursue legal remedies against the landlord if tenant is locked out of their home?

Yes, a tenant can seek legal assistance to regain possession of their unit and seek other damages. For legal referrals, visit: corona-virus.la/LARepresents

If you have been locked out, call HCIDLA: 1-866-557-7368.

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