Brief Fact Summary.
Hinton appealed the decision of the trial court that claiming that Sealander changing the locks before the end of Hinton’s lease constituted wrongful eviction.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
It is considered a wrongful eviction if a landlord restricts a tenant’s right of entry.
Hinton was Sealander’s tenant and gave Sealander 30-day notice that she would not be renewing her tenancy. Sealander change the locks prior to the 30 days, depriving Hinton of the opportunity to retrieve her belongings. The trial court ruled that Sealander’s actions were lawful and did not constitute wrongful eviction.
Whether it is considered a wrongful eviction if a landlord restricts a tenant’s right of entry?
Yes. Although Sealander maintains the right to secure a vacant unit from vandalism and thus had the right to change the locks on the unit, Sealander did not have the right to deny Hinton’s entry because Hinton’s rent was paid up until the end of the 30-day period. The judgment of the trial court is vacated.
To establish wrongful-eviction, a tenant must prove that the landlord committed a permanent act to deprive the tenant access to the premises. The landlord is additionally prevented from using self-help to evict the tenant.