Constructive eviction is a situation where the landlord does not do something that they have a legal occupation to do, provide livable housing As a result of the landlord’s actions, the property is considered to be uninhabitable. A tenant who is constructively evicted may terminate the lease and seek damages.
The typical issue that people cite using constructive eviction is that the landlord refused to provide heat or water to the unit, which caused it to be unlivable, and the tenant had to move out. In this example, the situation comes up quickly and the tenant has to move out of the unit. The tenant has the right to sue the landlord for the damages they incurred because of the problems that the landlord caused. In order to document this, there is usually a requirement that you have notified your landlord and that they must have failed to correct the problem or refused to correct the problem after having gotten notification from you.
Another example of constructive eviction involves not physical problems (no heat) but mental problems (harassment, threats, changing the locks, blocking the door, deliberately not fixing a leaky roof, and causing damage to the tenant’s possessions, mistreating the tenants personal property. Another example of constructive eviction might result from the landlord abusively coming into the rental unit frequently, in violation of the lease. Or the landlord could come into the unit with no notice and compromise the privacy of the tenant. There are lots of situations in addition to not providing heat and water that constitute constructive eviction.
Another example of a constructive eviction might be where the landlord stops visitors to the unit to ask them why they are visiting to the point that they are badgering the tenant or guests
When you move out of the unit, however, even temporarily, the landlord may claim that you have abandoned the unit improperly and hold you responsible for the rest of the lease payments. They also may refuse to return your security deposit. You might be able to force them to correct the problem and to force them to allow you to move back in. Once you move out of the unit there is a very good chance that either you will be suing the landlord or the landlord will be suing you over the conditions that led you to move out. Make certain that you can document that you gave the landlord notice of the defects and a reasonable amount of time to have made repairs before you moved out. If you can demonstrate that the conditions in the rental unit were such that you had to move, you are supposed to be able to get your security deposit returned.
What is the difference between wrongful eviction and constructive eviction? The distinction may be whether or not the landlord evicted you or whether or not you left the property claiming that the landlord’s actions made the continued occupancy of the rental unit so difficult that he “constructively” evicted you.
In the book “How to Stop an Eviction,” available on this site, there is a chapter that discusses all the types of wrongful and illegal evictions that can occur and how to sue the landlord as a result.This page is one of 6 interrelated pages. Be sure to read all the others below. If your landlord has committed one or more of these errors, you may be able to sue your landlord