What happens to personal property left behind when you move or are evicted?
Tenants who move, or tenants who have been evicted, continue to own the personal property that was left in the apartment or dwelling they rented. The landlord must protect the property for at least 30 days. The landlord can charge reasonable expenses for the storage, cost of moving and inventory of your property.
How do you get your property back?
In order to get your property back, you must first pay for the cost of storage, moving and inventory. If you get locked out by the sheriff, you should make an immediate demand for the release of your personal property before your landlord puts the property in storage and begins to incur costs and while the sheriff is present.
If the landlord won't give your property back, or if you dispute the amount of costs for storage, moving and inventory, you can take the landlord to court with the following procedure:
You must take the landlord to court within 20 days after you have moved, been evicted, or requested or received a copy of costs, whichever is later.
Go to the Justice Court Clerk and get a form called Motion to Contest Personal Property Lien. Complete the form and give it to the Justice Court Clerk for filing. There will be a fee for filing; contact your Justice Court Clerk for the correct amount. In some instances, the fee may be waived.
The Court will schedule a hearing within 10 days of the filing of your Motion. The Court will also notify the landlord of the hearing date.
When you go to the hearing, it is very important to follow these steps:
Bring any witnesses that know that the landlord refused to return your property; and
Bring any papers, or documents that can help you prove that the property belongs to you.
Can the landlord hold personal property for back rent due?
No. If the manager/landlord states that he is holding your property for back rent, this is illegal.
If you can prove that the landlord is holding your property for back rent, you can sue the landlord for your actual damages, plus up to an additional $1,000.
A Motion to Contest Personal Property lien must be filed within 20 days after you have vacated the property. If you do not file a Motion to Contest Personal Property lien within 20 days, you may still be able to sue for relief but the process will be more complicated. You should contact a legal services agency or an attorney of your choice.