What shouldI do if my landlord trespassed on my property and items were taken?

I moved out of my rental this month. I gave my landlord a 30 day notice, certified letter and everything. It statedthat we would be moved out by the 5th of this month. We paid our last month in rent, as well. They entered the home before we were moved out while we where not there; they and even threw away and moved some of our stuff. We called the cops and said they couldn’t do anything because it was a civil case. What would we do. Do we have a case? They even locked us out of the garage before the 5th. and stole our bike (we used the lock the landlord gave use to lock up the garage and put it on our bike).

Asked on October 20, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Even if you were late in moving out, the landlord may not steal or throw away your belongings: there is a time frame and a process for getting rid of belongings that tenants leave behind after they move out, and if the landlord doesn't follow it, the landlord may be liable. You may sue the landlord for the value of everything he stole, lost, or destroyed, and you have the option of suing in small claims court if you like, where you can represent yourself (no lawyer fees), court costs are smaller, and the cases usually move more quickly.

Note that the police are wrong--this is not just a civil matter; it is a criminal one, too, if the landlord has stolen items from you. You may wish to try contacting police supervisors about the matter, if the lower-level officers have refused to take action.

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