Is it legal for a landlord to keep your personal property as collateral for back rent after an eviction?

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Is it legal for a landlord to keep your personal property as collateral for back rent after an eviction?

Even if you do owe the rent?

Asked on June 20, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

In most states, a landlord cannot seize a tenant's personal property for back rent. Instead, to collect, the landlord must take the tenant to court and obtain a judgement. If the tenant happened to leave property in the rental unit, the landlord must follow legal procedures before they can sell, claim or otherwise dispose of it.

In a minority of states, a landlord is permitted to seize a tenant's property for unpaid rent with something called a "landlord's lien", however it requires obtaining a court order.

Finlly, if a landlord has wrongfully taken a tenant's personal possessions, they can be sued in civil court for the return of the items or for their value, plus damages. Additionally, the tenant can file a criminal compliant for "conversion" (theft) of thier property.

 


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