What rights does a tenant have if a landlord is holding their belongings “hostage”?

I was in the process of moving out when my landlord changed the locks and would not allow me to take out the rest of my personal possessions. I tried resolving this issue with him but he is asking I pay a month’s worth of rent in return since I was not able to get everything out on the 1st. Is there anything that I can do to retrieve my belongings?

Asked on October 5, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Ok, so you should have been out on the first but you weren't.  Technically you are considered a "holdover" and in order for a landlord to do anything with regard to the apartment and the locks is to do so through the courts.  Do yo think that you could offer to pay him a few bucks to cover the day or so that you were late? If not then I would try contacting your landlord again, in writing, and advising him that the changing of the locks and holding of your personal items is considered illegal.  That the refusal to allow you to obtain your items is known as conversion under the law and should he continue to refuse to allow you to re-enter the premises to obtain your things you will seek the help of the court in doing so. Then seek the help of the court.  Good luck.


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