What if You’re Unlawfully Locked Out of the Office?

Question: We lease office space in a Peoria office building for our insurance business. Under our lease we have five business days to pay our monthly lease payment. After five calendar days (including a weekend), but only three business days, the property manager “locked us out” of our office space because she has always wanted to get a higher-paying tenant in our office space. At an angry meeting later that morning, the property manager apologized to us for her mistake, and let us back into our office space. The landlord even sent over a dozen red roses to our office. Although we are back in our office after being “locked out” of our offices for less than a day, what if the landlord’s property manager makes the same “mistake” again but refuses to let us back into our offices?

Answer: If the landlord fails to comply with the five-business-day requirement in your lease, and locks you out of your office space, and the landlord refuses to let you back into your offices, your legal remedy is to file a wrongful eviction lawsuit and to schedule an order to show cause (“OSC”) hearing with a judge. At the OSC hearing you can show the judge that the lockout was wrongful. The judge should then order the landlord to let you back into your offices, and should award you at least some of your attorneys’ fees, plus any damages such as for the loss of business caused by the wrongful lockout.

Note: You should send back the dozen roses to the Peoria landlord, unless you can get the landlord to amend the lease to give you at least three days written notice after the five business days rent default. Even better, get the landlord to agree to amend your lease to eliminate any “lockout” provision, and make the landlord go to court to get an eviction order if there is a rent default.

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