What is my recourse if my landlord changed the locks on the doors to my business and will not allowme to re-enter and get my stuff out?

UPDATED: Jan 5, 2012

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What is my recourse if my landlord changed the locks on the doors to my business and will not allowme to re-enter and get my stuff out?

Can I change the key and re-enter to get my things. I have not been legally evicted. I still have my lease; I just am behind on the lease payments.

Asked on January 5, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Don't change the key and re-enter--you risk being arrested for trespassing, breaking and entering vandalism, etc., and even if you later vindicate yourself (see below), you don't need potential criminal liability as something to deal with and fight.

The proper response is to bring a court action for wrongful eviction: even if you were behind on your rent payments, the landlord may not simply change the locks on you, but rather must evict you through the courts; also, he may not detain your belongings. You would bring the court action seeking reinstatement of possession (if you want it), monetary damages for the lock out (e.g. lost profits or costs from being locked out), and access to your belongings. In addition to seeking compensation, you'd also file for an "order to show cause," which is request for fast relief--access to your belongings--due to the continuing harm caused by the lock out.

You can do this yourself--your court's website should be a source of information, sample documents, etc.--though it is recommended that you retain an attorney.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption