Can a tenant recover personal possessions after a court ordered lockout?

UPDATED: May 26, 2012

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Can a tenant recover personal possessions after a court ordered lockout?

If so, how?

Asked on May 26, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Mississippi


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, the tenant has the right to recover his or her belongings. The landlord must make them available (or allow him/her to pick them up, or ship them to the tenant) upon request, and if the landlord does not, the tenant may sue for a court order allowing him or her to recover the property, or for its value if it was lost, stolen, or destroyed. The landlord may charge the tenant reasonable storage or shipping costs, if appropriate--that is, the landlord does not have to go out of pocket for the cost of holding onto or providing the property to the tenant.

There are exceptions:

1) Where the tenant clearly indicated that he/she was abandoning the property;

2) If the tenant has not reclaimed it after a reasonable opportunity to do so and notice from the landlord that he or she must get it--in most states, the tenant has from 30 - 90 days to recover his/her property.

3) If there was some written agreement between landlord and tenant which provided that the tenant gave up all rights to anything left behind after lockout.

4) If there was some judgment or court order indicating that anything left in the premises after the lockout would be deemed abandoned.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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