What to do if my landlord is holding my car hostage?

He claims that I owe him money (I do not) and has blocked in my vehicle with a van. I called the police and they refuse to ask him to move it (he knows many of them personally). Is this legal? And, if not, what can I do?

Asked on January 11, 2013 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

No, it's not legal--not even remotely--and the police should act; if they won't, you may potentially have a cause of action or lawsuit against the police. What you can do is:

1) Go over these officers' heads--e.g. go to their captain; and let the senior police officials know that you'll bring a lawsuit if necessary.

2) And/or go to court for "emergent" (think "emergency" or "urgent") relief in the form of a court order (temporary restraining order or injunction) requiring the landlord to release your car; you could also sue him for monetary compensation if you've suffered any costs or losses (like missing work; having to rent a car to get around; etc.). If you're uncomfortable doing this yourself, retain an attorney to help you.

If the landlord  believes you owe him money, the legal way he can try to get it is by suing you and proving in court that you owe it.


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