Can a landlord refuse to hand over tenant's personal property following eviction?

I never thought I would find mysef in the position I am now, but I have been evicted. Times are tough and I fell behind on the rent. When it came time for me to get out, and have the locks changed, etc. The landlord told me that I could not regain my possessions until the monies owed to him were paid. I have every intention of paying, but at this moment can't. I want to put my stuff in storage...what can I do? I'm in South Florida btw.
Also, I feel crappy enough as it is. I don't need people telling me what a bad person I am. So please, just straight answers.
It went through the courts already. The landlord is legally in possession of the dwelling. However, should my personal property belong to him as well? I've told him I'd pay him, but he won't return allow access to anything until I do. My most important possessions are in there...

7 years ago - 11 answers

Best Answer

Chosen by Asker

Sorry to hear about your situation, but the straight up answer is, he can't hold your property.
Usually what should happen after an eviction is:
Court, judges decides you need to move and the judge will give you so many days to do so.
Until that date you may live in the unit, after that court appointed date and you're belongings are still there, the apartment has options, they can call the sheriff and have your stuff boxed up and have yourself escorted off the property. Or they may have in house staff box up your belongings. After that is done, then they will change the locks and proceed to get collections in place.
In no part can the landlord hold your belongings even if you owe rent.
I would contact

Each state may be different, but I can't imagine its that different.
Best of luck

7 years ago

Other Answers

It would depend on what state you live in. I believe in most states they can't. He/she might try to hold it to get some payments back but that isn't a good way. I would go to the Town/City hall and find out what you can do about it. That would be the best way and there you should be able to get your stuff back. I hope all works out for you.

by S.B. - 7 years ago

not usually. call the police and ask them. it is a civil matter but they might take it as a theft report.
the landlord only has the right to sue you for monies owed, not keep your personal property in most jurisdictions.

by ray z - 7 years ago

I'd look over your lease carefully regarding eviction. I know that your landlord can put your things out on the street if he feels like it, he might be able to hold your things as well.

by gnomie_jones - 7 years ago

It's like he's keeping your property hostage until you pay. The absolute best thing to do in this circumstance would be to talk with your landlord. Explain your situation, explain how you intend to pay him the money. Technically, even if he stores your stuff will end up having to pay, that is unless he gets rid of it. I'm not trying to make you feel bad and I've had bad times myself, but you can't run away and not talk with this landlord. Working something out with him means not going to court over this matter and racking up more fees.


by Tally - 7 years ago


* Only a judge can order you evicted, and only the Sheriff can put you out of your
home! (See "EVICTION" feature)

* Florida law does not allow a landlord to force a tenant out by:

1. Shutting off the utilities or interrupting service, even if the service is in the
landlord's name.
2. Changing the locks or using a device that denies the tenant access.
3. Removing the outside doors, locks, roof, walls or windows (except for
purposes of maintenance, repair or replacement).
4. Removing the tenant's personal property from the dwelling unit unless
action is taken after surrender, abandonment or a lawful eviction.

* A landlord may not evict a tenant solely in retaliation for the tenant complaining to a governmental agency about a code violation, joining or establishing a tenant's "union" or similar organization or asserting other tenant rights.

* If any of these occur, the tenant may sue for actual and consequential damages or three month's rent, whichever is greater, plus court costs and attorney's fees.


by NeighborLady - 7 years ago

The only way the landlord can legally change the locks and keep your stuff is if there is a order from the court, which is usually carried out by the police. If he just changed your locks, then he is probably not following the right procedures.

Did he provide you with a Pay or Quit order? This is the first step to eviction. After 5 days, then he can have you served with papers to appear in court, in which most judges will give the tenant 14 days to get out. Then if not gone, the police will escourt the tenant out and locks are changed, and then the property belongs to the landlord.

by altonbi - 7 years ago

if it was court ordered eviction your landlord does have a right to retain y our possessions until money has been reimbursed. If it was not a court ordered eviction then your landlord cannot hold your possessions, call the police and report theft. Make some sort of payment arrangement with your landlord, so that if you pay a portion per month u can retain some of your possessions. Seems like u stayed too long and now ur kinda at their mercy. if u had left before the sheriff came you might have been able to put your items in storage. so sorry but Good luck.

by spadezgurl22 - 7 years ago

Well, in my opinion, although he has taken you to court and has properly evicted you, he has not reduced the judgement gotten in court to a collections, and assuming that he/she did not get an order allowing him/her to keep your personal goods as collateral for the debt without proper agreements between you, I don't believe he/she has the right to take possession of your personal goods.
As it relates to the personal belongings of a person who has been properly evicted each state has provisions as to what the property owner has to do relating with the return of those goods they can not merely hold the goods hostage, sell them, or dispose of them without proper court adjudication.
These provisions relating to what must be done with the personal belongings are codified in the Landlord tenant laws of the state.
You need to get Florida legal assistance relating to this matter since the landlord "might" have made a legal mistake and now the shoe is on the other foot. If as you stated you can not afford all of this including legal help you might want to try this link or research legal aid in your state.

Free legal aid search for all states:
State bar Association:

Here are links that might help you understand what my opinions mean

Florida General Provisions Property Laws includes tenant/landlords isssues
Landlord tenant main site:
Landlord tenant handbook:
Landlord tenant brochure:
Consumer Services landlord tenant explanation:
HUD Senior Housing Section 8
HUD: Florida Landlord Tenant Laws

Best of luck to you on your research


by newmexicorealestateforms - 7 years ago

bottom line, he cant do anything with it, with out a judgement....then it could come down to city ord. where I live, after they get the judgement you have about 5 days to get it out, or they can put it out at the curb. I dont know of any place, they can hold it for back payment, inless they are required to put it in storage, as part of the judgement, and then theres a time limit.

by DennistheMenace - 7 years ago

You must of known this was coming. What the landlord probably did was to put your possessions in storage for the time being. Most state laws say a landlord has to hold on to tenants possession for 30 days...and they then can dispose/sell them. If you want them returned you will have to pay the back rent and storage fees. Unfortunately when the sheriff gave him possession of the also includes the contents of the property. You should have moved your stuff out earlier.

by reenzz - 7 years ago