Two Instances When You Can Sue a Landlord for Moving Costs


According to some people, the average person needs at least 8 weeks to prepare for a move and make it happen. Sometimes, however, people have to pack up and leave at the last minute, incurring considerable costs in the process. If your emergency move is due to something your landlord did, you may be able to recover the cost from him or her. Here are two situations when you can collect moving costs from your landlord.

Illegal Eviction

When the landlord puts you out of the home or apartment for illegal reasons or doesn't follow proper eviction procedures, then you may have grounds to sue the person to recover moving costs and other losses or damages you suffered.

States are very specific about when and how landlords can compel tenants to leave. Unfortunately, the laws aren't always well understood by landlords and tenants. For instance, in D.C., a landlord can legally evict a tenant if he or she intends to occupy the dwelling for personal use (e.g., move into it). Although it may seem supremely unfair to be kicked out simply because your landlord wants to use the home or apartment, it's not illegal and you wouldn't have a viable case for damages.

On the other hand, it's illegal for a landlord to put your stuff out on the curb and lock you out of the unit. In most states, only an authorized law enforcement agent can physically remove an individual and his or her belongings from the premises after receiving a court order to do so. In this situation, the landlord would likely be on the hook to pay your moving expenses, plus other losses such as the cost of securing a new place to live and damages to your belongings.

Other forms of illegal eviction include these:

  • physically removing the tenant
  • turning off essential utilities such as electricity or gas (if tenant is current on bills)
  • threatening the tenant
  • suddenly raising the rent to an unaffordable level without adequate notice
  • denying access to part of or the entire unit
  • refusing to renew a month-to-month lease without proper notice

More info about illegal evictions can be found online or by speaking to an attorney.

Constructive Eviction

A landlord doesn't have to actively be trying to put a tenant out for the action to count as an unlawful eviction. A constructive eviction occurs when the home becomes uninhabitable and the tenant has to leave to protect his- or herself from harm. This can occur in a number of ways.

For instance, the unit is invaded by bed bugs but the landlord does nothing to eradicate the infestation. If the contract signed by the tenant stipulates that the landlord is responsible for fixing such an issue, the court may consider a tenant to have been constructively evicted if the person leaves as a result, even though the landlord didn't order the person to go.

To prevail in court and recover money to pay your moving expenses, two things must be true. The problem must be severe enough to render the unit unfit to live in. Noisy neighbors or drafty windows wouldn't qualify. However, missing windows and doors, a severely rotted roof, gas leaks, and flooding would likely be seen as hazardous conditions that make the unit uninhabitable.

The other thing you have to show is that the landlord's actions (or lack of action) forced you to move within a relatively short period of time. A pipe breaks and floods the apartment but the only thing the landlord does to fix the issue is shut off the water. The court may consider it constructive eviction if you made an emergency move because you didn't have access to a vital service and the unit was unlivable. However, if the landlord offers to put you in comparable accommodations (e.g., relocate you to another apartment) and you choose to break your lease instead, then the landlord wouldn't be held liable for your losses since he or she attempted to remedy the situation.

Making a last-minute or emergency move can be stressful and expensive. It's a good idea to speak to an attorney to see if your landlord can be made to pick up some of the cost. If you need to move fast because of an issue in your home or apartment, contact a local moving company that offers last-minute moving service, like Modern Movers, Inc.


15 January 2016

create a checklist for your move

When planning a move, you have so many things on your mind that it is easy for you to leave out the important things that need done, as well as the not-so-important things. Creating a checklist will help you get through the entire process without missing a beat. My blog will provide you with several elements that you need to remember to assist you with creating a checklist that will meet your personal needs. Hopefully, what I have included here will take some of the stress out of your move and make things move along without any problems arising expectantly.