Can a landlord legally hold a tenant’s property due to a utility bill?

UPDATED: Sep 9, 2012

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Can a landlord legally hold a tenant’s property due to a utility bill?

My mother was temporarily living at a friends house. She rented 1 room for $225 per month. Her rent is paid up. The people were advised that it was temporary until she found a place of her own. She recently found an apartment and paid 1st months rent and deposit. Now the people are holding her belongings due to a utility bill that was never agreed upon. She cannot move into her new place because of this.

Asked on September 9, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Virginia


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Under the laws of all states in this country a landlord cannot use self help to resolve a rental dispute with hisor her tenant. As such the landlord's holding of a tenant's property due to a dispute over an utility bill lends itself to a lawsuit against the landlord by the tenant.

I suggest that your mother consult with a landlord tenant attorney to see what her legal recourse is against her landlord due to his or her holding of her belongings in a wrongful manner.

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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