If we lock out someone from a motel for non-payment of rent, what happens to their personal property?

We run a sort of half way house but it is listed as a motel. We have many people who use the motel as their residence and pay weekly, bi-weekly or monthly rates. When a person does not pay the amount due we will lock the room down. Is it legal to hold the persons property until they pay the amount they owe. Also if they leave without saying anything, how long do we have to hold their belongings in case they come back? Do we have to store it for any period of time?

Asked on July 17, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin


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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You are treading on very thin ice here and if I were you I would speak with an attorney in your area about not only the locking out (which is illegal for a "tenant") but your possible violation of your legal status and zoning laws.  Also, if you do anything with their belingings you could be guilty of conversion.  Good luck.

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