Can a landlord keep personal possessions until you pay past due rent?

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Can a landlord keep personal possessions until you pay past due rent?

I was staying with a younglady at her apartment and signed a general subletor agreement between just her and myself. After the second month I was unable to keep up with rent and only paid part of my rent. We agreed I would move out, but when I came to retrieve my belongings she locked me out and changed the lock. She eventually let me get my things but she went through my belongings first and took some used offering envelopes that belong to my church. I keep them for record keeping purposes. She refuses to give them to me until I pay her back. Does she have the right to do this? They also have some personal information on some of the envelopes such as addresses and credit cards

Asked on November 28, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

She has absolutely no right to keep this and what she did amounted to theft, regardless of whether you paid your rent or not. She must return these items or face serious consequences both civilly from you and criminally from the police and prosecution. Take a civil police escort with you to retrieve those items and make sure there is a police report on record. She may wind up suing you for the rest of the monies owed but keep in mind, you do still owe the money.


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