28 Jan Self-Help Evictions and Your Rights
There are very strict rules and regulations that landlords are required to follow when evicting a tenant. In a typical eviction proceeding, when you have violated an aspect of your lease agreement, your landlord will provide you with Notice of Termination for Cause; which can include Pay Rent or Quit notices, Cure or Quit notices, or Unconditional Quit notices. All of these at least give you advance notice and often times the opportunity to make the necessary corrections to avoid eviction.
At times, however, landlords will ignore these procedures and evict anyway. So-called “self-help” evictions are illegal, and if your landlord decides to take the law into their own hands you have every right to bring a lawsuit against them. Examples of these unlawful evictions include changing the locks, removing the front door, or turning off the heat and electricity. If you find that your landlord has done any of these things without proper notice you have a strong case for bringing a lawsuit against them. As a tenant who has been illegally evicted, you may typically sue for three months’ rent or twice the actual damages, whichever is greater. South Carolina courts may also award you court costs and/or attorney fees.
To protect yourself from such practices, two actions are particularly helpful. First, consult with a local tenants’ rights group. Second, consult an attorney. The staff at Hyde Law Firm, P.A. will be a tireless advocate for you, making sure you don’t get locked out in the cold.