Can I be charged with theft by deception for not returning rent-to-own merchandise?

UPDATED: Oct 28, 2011

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Can I be charged with theft by deception for not returning rent-to-own merchandise?

I rented furniture and the complex that I was living in became infested with bed bugs. The rental company refused to pick it up after inspecting it. Now they are threatening to charge me with theft by deception.

Asked on October 28, 2011 under General Practice, Kentucky


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

From what you write, you have *not* committed theft by deception, or any kind of theft: you have taken or converted the furniture for you own use, but rather, apparently had the furniture available to be picked up, but the store/company refused to take it.

Possibly, they could consider that you have destroyed the furniture, if it is too infested by bedbugs to take back. If that is the case, then while you would seem to not be criminally liable, they could hold you accountable for the value of the furniture and sue you if you do not pay it voluntarily. You in turn might be able to sue the building or another tenant, if either is responsible for the infestation.

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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