Can I remove materials I used to build a shop on someone’s property with their permission?

UPDATED: Feb 9, 2011

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Can I remove materials I used to build a shop on someone’s property with their permission?

About 4 years ago I asked a friend’s parents if I could have a workshop in an abandoned structure on some property that they owned. They agreed and said that we could stay there, rent free/ lease free, for as long as we chose; no conditions. All utilities are in my name. I have now made the structure into a usable space through much sweat and about 5k of self-financed cash. Now these people are kicking me out and won’t let me have any of my materials that I put into the shop. Can I take them without any legal repercussions?

Asked on February 9, 2011 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You may have a legal action or claim that would entitle you to recover the materials, or their value, or *possibly* (though not likely) to stay there for some additional period of time. Howeever, you cannot simply enter onto someone else's property and take materials--even you own own materials--on it, anymore than you could enter someone's home without their permission to retrieve clothing or a cell phone you'd left there. Doing this--entering and taking without permission--is trespassing at a minimum; if there's any question at all about who owns what, you could also be charged with burglary. If  you want to get the materials, you should speak with an attorney about how best to do this and what other claims, if any, you may have. Since an attorney costs money and you've already been there for 4 years rent free, you should ask yourself if it's worthwhile, or if you should just consider the materials left behind as a belated rent payment for 4 year's occupency.

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