What is the law on verbal agreements between new owners and prior owners regarding personal property left on the property?

My mom sold our property and she lived on half in her house; we lived on the other half in our mobile home trailer. I did not have anywhere to take my stuff, so I asked me was owners if I could come back for my stuff when I found somewhere to put it was told that would be ok there was no hurry because they were not going to do anything on that half until spring of next year but when I went to get my belongings they had pulled trailer off of blocks causing a lot of my stuff to break or be destroyed and some are not replaceable we also had a tractor that now they say we cannot have. What are my chances in court since they broke our verbal agreement?

Asked on December 10, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Your agreement was not enforceable, unfortunately. The only enforceable agreements are those which meet the criteria to be contracts. While a contract can be oral (that, not "verbal," is the correct term for an unwritten agreement), there must be an exchange of "consideration": that is, each party must give the other something (or some promise) of value--payment is, of course, the most common consideration. But you did not give them anything for their promise or to take care of your belongings; therefore, their promise was what is considered a "gratuitious," or free, promise and is not enforceable. It is like a promise to buy pizza or drinks for your friends--if you choose to not so so, they cannot sue you or enforce it. 

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