Can a landlord hold property in lieu of back rent?

My son lost his job and is unable to pay his rent. It has been about 6 months and my son wants to get his property but the landlord and the owners say he can not have it until all the back rent is paid. My son has been trying to work out something with the landlord but is not having any luck. There are several things that he can not replace from his service in the military and tour in Iraq.

Asked on November 30, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Arkansas

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Under the laws of all satte sin this country, a landlord cannot hold a tenant's property ransome in exchange for payment of unpaid rent. For the landlord to do what you have written is a violation of many state statutes on the topic as well as case law.

I suggest that your son write the landord a letter requesting the access to his former rental by a set date so he can retrieve his belongings or that he will consult with a landlord tenant attorney about the situation. If the demanded date comes and goes, your son should consult with a landlord tenant attorney about the situation.

Make sure he keeps a copy of the letter sent to the landlord seeking access to the unit to retrieve his belongings for future reference and need.


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