If a tenant is delayed slightly in vacating a rental after being served with notice, does the landlord have the right to remove items in the unit?

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If a tenant is delayed slightly in vacating a rental after being served with notice, does the landlord have the right to remove items in the unit?

My sister and I were roomates but I was not included on the lease. She broke the contract and moved out. With the understanding from the agents of the apartment that it would not be inspected until after the keys were returned. I was led to belive that I would have a few extra days. The place was almost empty. I returned to complete my move, only to find the lock had been changed. Most of my things were trashed but some was left in the apartment. My 32 inch TV, surround sound system, digital camera, and my laptop were gone. I was robbed. No one was on my side, not even the police.

Asked on August 20, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, the landlord does not simply have the right to take your belongings, even if you were delayed a few days in recovering them--and especially if  you had an agreement with the landlord's agents that you could take a few extra days. You may be able to sue for the value of your belongings, but would have to have proof they were taken or destroyed by the landlord; i.e. the landlord is not automatically liable for losses to your belongings. If you have evidence of that, you may be in a good position to sue. You should consult with an attorney, who can evaluate the specifics of your situation and advise you as to the strength of your case and next steps. Good luck.


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