What to do if my landlord assumed that I was moving so let himself in and threw away my things?

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What to do if my landlord assumed that I was moving so let himself in and threw away my things?

According to him, the neighbors told the homes owner that we were moving but he never contacted me. In reality, my wife and I were going to pay the rent until the end of the lease but moved most of our things to our new place. So while the lease was still in effect, without any notice, he let himself in and threw away all of my possessions (including furniture and sentimental items like family pictures and heirlooms). Do I have a case for damages for the things he threw away since he had no right to enter the premise without notice and he destroyed quite a bit of my things?

Asked on April 4, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The home owner had no right to throw away your belongings:

1) If you were still in possession of the premises (still renting; lease not expired; had not surrendered possession to the landlord; etc.), then clearly he could not enter at all, let alone dispose of your belongings.

2) Even if your tenancy had terminated, a landlord must generally provide (or at least attempt to provide) notice to the tenant that the landlord has the tenant's  possessions, and an opportunity to recover them.

Therefore, since the landlord disposed of your possessions without any right to do so, you may sue him to recover their monetary value. Unfortunately, the law does not provide compensation for the loss of sentimental value--only for the actual economic cost of the items.


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