Can a landlord legally hold a tenant’s property due to a utility bill?

My mother was temporarily living at a friends house. She rented 1 room for $225 per month. Her rent is paid up. The people were advised that it was temporary until she found a place of her own. She recently found an apartment and paid 1st months rent and deposit. Now the people are holding her belongings due to a utility bill that was never agreed upon. She cannot move into her new place because of this.

Asked on September 9, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Under the laws of all states in this country a landlord cannot use self help to resolve a rental dispute with hisor her tenant. As such the landlord's holding of a tenant's property due to a dispute over an utility bill lends itself to a lawsuit against the landlord by the tenant.

I suggest that your mother consult with a landlord tenant attorney to see what her legal recourse is against her landlord due to his or her holding of her belongings in a wrongful manner.


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