By Minnie Apolis
By now we are not shocked when landlords do things that are plainly illegal, but this was something I had never considered before.
The issue is that some tenants have had items taken by landlords – who then claim that they took and are holding the items as collateral for damages. Whether the alleged damages have actually been suffered or not is not made clear.
I made a search recently and discovered a couple articles or discussions had been posted on the subject.
One of them was on World Law Direct dot com, in which a discussion was posted about the girlfriend of the tenant. The girlfriend had left some of her possessions at the BF's place – and unluckily for her, her property was taken by the landlord as supposed collateral because the BF, it is alleged, owes the landlord for a month of rent.
The girlfriend filed a police report – good for her. She was advised to file against the landlord in small claims court for her property, since the BF did not hand over her things to the LL and never gave permission to the LL to take them. Although first, she was urged to find out how the LL got the items. Because the BF has another roommate – who possibly might have handed them over – although it is more likely that the LL entered without notice and took them.
Police are going to do anything since they will most likely consider this a civil matter, not a criminal matter.
There are other issues with this specific case because the LL does not have a Certificate of Occupancy – so he may not be able to collect rent at all, legally.
Then there was another case on City-Data dot com forum where a renter's storage area was broken into – along with several other storage areas. Only things like DVD players, TVs, a blender, and similar items were taken.
The renter was told that the only recourse was to file a claim with his renter's insurance. It is unlikely that he would be able to prove that it was an inside job. However, the insurance company might in turn try to recover its losses if it felt that the landlord was negligent in some way or responsible in some way. One person felt that that the LL could be held liable if they were negligent, especially if the LL implied that your items were secure with them.
Again – the expense of filing suit in your locality may have a lot to do with whether it is worthwhile.
In either case, being a tenant sucks. Thefts do occur, and the thieves always keep the value of the items just low enough that it is not worth it to either file a claim (re renter's insurance) or sue the landlord.