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Tennant removed property from rental that did not belong to them


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#1 ExLandlord

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 01:41 PM

I admit my husband and I were fools.

Background: We rented our house on a month to month basis to a young man with a $200.00 per month reduction in rent (from $850 per mo to $650 per mo) for help in doing work on the house. We hurried to move to move out two weeks before we had intended but due to weather (snow) we had to cancel our mover and had to leave some things at the house. Also, our financial situation had changed and we no longer wanted them to move in, but they begged and we relented. We told them they could stay for two weeks without paying rent. The young man allowed had told us that his girlfriend might be staying with him. They and her son stayed the two weeks and the following month without paying rent. They also asked us not to come pick up our things when they wern't present, but would not make appointments with us to do so. The one time they did, they were an hour late because they said they went shopping. When they moved out, they took our personal property with them. We informed them that we would send the police to the only known address (her parent's dairy farm) to look for our property. They returned some, but not all of it. They still have property that totals over $1500 in replacement value. I live in Washington state.

My question is: What recource do I have to get the balance of my property returned? Can this be considered a felony?

Thanks,
ExLandlord

#2 pg1067

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 02:06 PM

You're free to report the matter to the police and/or file a civil lawsuit.

#3 adjusterjack

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 03:40 PM

They still have property that totals over $1500 in replacement value. I live in Washington state.

My question is: What recource do I have to get the balance of my property returned? Can this be considered a felony?


Depends. Theft in the second degree (anything between $750 - $5000) is a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine.

Trouble is, your stuff was used so you'd only be entitled to it's used value. Depending on how old, it could be well under the $750 value and, instead, be theft in the third degree which is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.

Which is not to say that anybody gets those kinds of penalties for a few hundred worth of stuff.

Worse, the police might investigate but the chance of actual prosecution is next to zero because, guess what, you didn't see them take the stuff and can't prove that they have it unless, of course, they are dumb enough to have it when the police visit them.

In a civil suit you might have an easier time of convincing a small claims judge that they took it but, even if you get a judgment, collecting from deadbeats might be next to impossible.

It's beginning to look like you will end up considering that $1500 as tuition for a life lesson from the school of hard knocks.

Warning: Legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here are simplified and might not fully explain the ramifications of your particular issue. I am not a lawyer. I do not give legal advice. I make comments based on my knowledge and experience. I guarantee nothing. If you act on my comments without the advice of an attorney, you do so at your own risk.


#4 Fallen

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 02:32 PM

First you say you entered into a deal to rent house on monthly basis; once you did that, tenant was free to expect to move in (he can argue he gave you cash and you've no real way to counter that). Then you're stuck with notion of proper termination notice (which, thankfully, in WA is only 20 days so you will want to keep this in mind ... and read up on landlord-tenant info, yes?).

Naturally, you were free to issue a notice to pay or quit, notice of termination and then an eviction after notice to pay/quit (move) is ignored and they don't cough up.

If you had access to the house meanwhile and there weren't keyless deadbolts, etc., I'd have gotten my stuff under guise of having to do X-Y-Z repair.

"We informed them that we would send the police to the only known address (her parent's dairy farm) to look for our property.

And did you? If not, in future, do not threaten what you do not ultimately do.

Replacement value isn't relevant.

"What recource do I have to get the balance of my property returned?"

I think you knew the answer to this before you came here.

"Can this be considered a felony?"

Is this not something you'd have already discussed with police? :)

I'll echo PG's advisory "warning" with a twist: (Many) legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here might not fully identify or explain the ramifications of your particular problem. I do not give legal advice as such (and such is impermissible here at any rate). Comments are based on personal knowledge and experience and legal info gleaned over a quarter century, and every state has differing laws on and avenues to address most topics.  If you need legal advice, you need to consult (and pay) a professional so that you may have someone to hold accountable.  Acting on personal and informational advice from a stranger on the internet is a bad idea -- at least not without your own thorough due dilience/research and confirmation as it applies to your situation.  :)





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