How does a house guest who has moved out get their belongings returned?

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How does a house guest who has moved out get their belongings returned?

My son, who has just turned 18 but is still in high school,was staying mainly at his girlfriend’s moms house. He didn’t pay rent. He moved out and they (mom and girlfriend) refuse to return his belongings to me. He refuses to go back there himself because the ggirlfriend is threatening to shoot herself unless he returns to her. What can I do to pick up his and some of my belongings from their house?

Asked on November 24, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The girlfriend and mother MUST return his belongings--legally, they have no choice. If they don't, they have committed a form of theft and can be sued for the belonging's value; they might also be subject to criminal prosecution. However, if your son and they can't work out it, to get his belonging's back, he would probably have to take legal actions--i.e. sue. He could try to bring a claim in small claims court, which is not very expensive, but will involve him personally having to interact with the girlfriend and mother to some degree, which might not be in his interest; and unless the value of the possesessions is considerable (somewhere greater than $1,500, for example), it would likely not be worth it to retain an attorney. Depending on how much is at stake, it  may be best to walk away from the belongings and the situation.


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