If a tenant is evicted, can alandlord hold personal propertyregarding a past due utility bill?

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If a tenant is evicted, can alandlord hold personal propertyregarding a past due utility bill?

I was told to get out of the rental unit by an agent of my landlord. I was told to get out in 3 days without legal documentation. We were threatened and harassed for a week while trying to find another place to leave. I was contacted by the agent that I have left some property there and that the agent wouldn’t give back until payment of the utility bill (we was going to pay prior to getting back on our feet from moving into a new place). I have received multiple calls, text messages, and emails threatening and ordering us to pay the bill or she would take us to court.

Asked on July 7, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Mississippi

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You should retain an attorney,l both to get your property back and because you may have grounds to sue the landlord:

1) No, the landlord or its agent may *not* hold your property for an unpaid utility bill--or  past due rent, or damages to the apartment, or any debt--unless and only to the extent that you gave the landlord a security interest in that property (i.e. you provided it as collateral for the debt).

2) You can only be evicted in a court proceeding, with proper notice. If you were simply harassed and threated to leave, there is a good chance the landlord committed an improper eviction against you and you may therefore have a legal claim against the landlord. Good luck.


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 AttorneyPages.com 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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