Can we hold a former roommate’s possessions left in the home until back rent is paid?

UPDATED: Dec 10, 2011

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Can we hold a former roommate’s possessions left in the home until back rent is paid?

The roommate was told she needed to give us 30 days notice before moving out. She stopped showing up at the house and told us she was moving out through text message. She still owes for 2 months. Can we legally hold her possessions until we get the money we are owed even though a written lease was not signed?

Asked on December 10, 2011 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If your former roommate still owes back rent to you, you cannot legally hold her possessions "ransome" until she pays what is owed. To do what you are asking about would violate most state statutes on the subject resulting in civil liability as to you for the wrongful act.

I suggest that you give the former roommate's possessions back when asked to do so. In the interim, you recourse against the former roommate would be a small claims action for past due rent.

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