California landlords must follow specific rules and procedures when evicting a tenant (California Tenants’ Rights for details). The state forbids landlords from taking the law into their own hands. Examples of illegal “self-help” evictions include changing the locks, taking the tenant’s belongings, removing the front door, or turning off the heat or electricity.
The tenant may also be awarded court costs and attorney fees.
If you decide to sue your landlord for an illegal eviction, check California law (you’ll find the California rules prohibiting self-help evictions at Cal. Civ. Code § 789.3). See the Laws and Legal Research section of this site for advice on finding and reading statutes.
It’s also a good idea to get advice from a local tenants’ rights group in California. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website includes information on tenant advocates for each state.
Finally, consider consulting an experienced tenants’ lawyer. See the article Tips on Hiring and Working With Lawyers on this site for advice.
For a wide range of other articles of interest to tenants, see the Renters’ and Tenants’ Rights section on this site.