What isour legal recourse if my former landlord refuses to give us our belongings?

UPDATED: Aug 30, 2011

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What isour legal recourse if my former landlord refuses to give us our belongings?

We were moving out of apartment and we finished moving all the stuff inside apartment. We came the next day to get all of our tools (over $1000 worth) we left in a shed that we built, but he refuses to give it to us. We called the police and he admitted to them that we did have stuff inside the shed but he is not going to give it to us. We still have keys and I have not cashed my deposit refund. What can I do?

Asked on August 30, 2011 Iowa


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

For your landlord to purposefully withhold items that you own in a shed that he or she owns from you after you have moved out of the rented unit is wrongful and could subject him to a legal action.

You need to write the landlord a letter (or e mail) stating that you expect to receive the return of all items that he or she is wrongfully holding by a set date and you need him or her to contact you for a time and date to retrive them. Keep a copy of the letter for future reference. If you get no satisfaction to your demand, your options are as follows assuming you want the items:

1. contact a landlord attorney to represent you;

2. file a small claims court action;

When you show up in court, make sure you have the police report as well.

Your damages would be the fair market value of the tools withheld, any lost income and the fair rental value of them.

Good luck.


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