Can I sue my landlord if he disposed of my personal property that was left in another’s storage unit but with management’s permission?

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Can I sue my landlord if he disposed of my personal property that was left in another’s storage unit but with management’s permission?

On 01/02 I read a note on my main apartment door asking tenants to move their belongings out of storage units that are not associated with their apartments by 01/04. My items were in another’s unit because when I moved in, the leasing agent told me that I could use any storage unit available. I went to remove my items immediately on 01/02 only to see that my lock was already removed and items were gone. The landlord admits that they disposed items because the unit did not belong to me. I had hockey equipment totaling over $600 in the unit. They are only willing to give me $100. I am asking $400. Do I have a case in small claims?

Asked on January 6, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You could sue the landlord for conversion.  Conversion is any unauthorized act which deprives an owner of his/her property permanently.

Conversion is the unauthorized assumption of dominion and control over the personal property of another without consent or privilege.  Conversion occurred when the landlord disposed of your personal property without consent or privilege. 

You can file your lawsuit in Small Claims Court.  Your damages (the amount you are seeking to recover in your lawsuit) would be the value of the hockey equipment and any other items of your personal property that were removed from the storage unit and disposed of by the landlord or the cost of their replacement.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages which means that the cost of a replacement for the hockey equipment would need to be something comparable to what was lost, and not the most expensive equipment you can find.  If you were to replace the equipment with the most expensive equipment you could find, your damages would be reduced accordingly.

Your damages in Small Claims Court should also include court costs.  Court costs would include the court filing fee and process server fee.


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