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Do-It-Yourself Evictions: Think Twice Before You Give A Renter The Boot
by Annette West, CCIM, MBA, CPA
After hearing from several out of state investors that New Mexico landlord tenant law was very friendly, I thought it would be interesting to compare our landlord laws to AZ and CA. The chart summarizes the result of my research. Please note that before you act on this information, you should contact your real estate attorney or the websites referenced below for the latest updates and changes in the law. This is not intended to be legal advice.
While doing this research, I learned a new phrase: "Constructive or Self-Help Evictions".
It appears that some landlords think that they can change the locks or turn off utilities if a tenant does not pay the rent. Shortcuts such as changing locks, turning off the water, intimidation or physically removing the tenant's belongings from the unit are illegal in almost every state. Some states fine landlords extra penalties for taking shortcuts, including California.
According to Findlaw for the Public's website, (http://realestate.findlaw.com/landlord/tenant-eviction/tenant-eviction-illegal-selfhelp.html) without a court order, you may not:
• Turn off the utilities, such as water, gas or electricity.
• Lock them out of the property.
• Remove any doors, windows, gates or other part of the property that provides safety or is guaranteed as part of the lease
• Take or remove tenant belongings.
• Threaten harm to the tenant or his property.
• Disturb tenant peace and enjoyment of the property by making noise or otherwise interfering with the use of the place.
• Call the police and complain, unless a valid problem exists.
• Harass tenants or their guests, including spying, calling or sending inappropriate correspondence.
Bad behavior by the tenant does not justify bad behavior by the landlord. If the tenant is late on the rent, has damaged your property or broken other rules y