The most important measure of damages in a wrongful eviction case is the value of a lost rent-controlled unit. So, if a tenant has been residing in a rent-controlled unit for 20 years, and was paying below market rate rent, they can’t just move to another apartment at the same rent down the street. If they have been evicted, they have lost their home and a similar apartment would rent for at least twice the rent they were paying. We measure damages by hiring an expert to do a rental appraisal for that unit at the time the tenant vacated.
For example, if the tenant was living in a three-bedroom apartment in San Francisco for 20 years and only paying $2,000 a month, but that unit would go for $6,000 a month at the time they vacate, the lost value of the apartment is calculated as $6,000 minus $2,000, which is $4,000. That rent deferential is multiplied in cases of wrongful eviction by however long the tenant would have lived there had they not been illegally evicted. In some cases, the jury has awarded 20 years of that differential in damages. That $4,000 a month rent differential multiplied by 20 years means the potential damages can be very large.
Also, for wrongful eviction cases under local rent ordinances, the actual damages are automatically tripled by the judge and awarded to the plaintiff.