Can a landlord hold my possessions?

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Can a landlord hold my possessions?

I’m a small business owner. I do owe the landlord rent and last week, I received a letter stating that she isn’t renewing the lease which ended days later. Then, on the first of this month, she changed the locks and hasn’t allowed me to enter to get my things. The letter that I received on wasn’t sent certified mail but it was a notarized letter. She doesn’t have a judgement to maintain my possessions. Can she keep my barber clippers?

Asked on July 5, 2016 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The landlord for a commercial tenant can only keep a tenant's belongings if that tenant did not move out  on time and/or is evicted (e.g. due to unpaid rent) if there was a clause or provision to that effect in the lease itself--i.e. if as a business owner, you agreed to allow the landlord to keep your possessions under these circumstances, that provision or term is most likely enforceable. (It would not be in a residential tenancy in NJ, but commercial tenants get much less protection.) If there is no leave provision authorizing this, you can bring an Order to Show Cause in landlord-tenant court, for a court order allow you to get your provisions--in fact, even if there is a lease provision authorizing this, it's worth trying to file an OSC  because judges in landlord-tenant have a fair amount of discretion in cases like this, and you could get a judge who will tell the landlord to give you an opportunity to retrieve your property.


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