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How can I get an old roommate to pay money she owes me?

Tucson, AZ |

My former roommate, who was released with a roommate release form left some of her belongings in my apartment so I told her when she came to give me the keys and get her belongings that she will get them back as soon as I receive the rent and electric money she owes me. We are both on the lease and I had to pay for her last month of rent as well as our electric bill, which she said she would pay. She is now threatening to have a peace officer escort her to my apartment to get her belongings. Do I have the right to hold these items as collateral since she said she would pay the money she owes me? How do I get her to pay the rent? She raked up late fees and made me pay over a thousand dollars after she left.

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Attorney answers 1


Let me first mention that you should carefully read the roommate release form you refer to, which must be a form created by the property management company, and may describe the conditions under which the release was granted. It is possible that some of the terminology in there might be helpful.
Second, you cannot legally retain her personal belongings as some sort of collateral for payment of a debt to you.
Third, your best recourse for collection, unless you can reach agreement with her for a compromised payment, is small claims court. The process is inexpensive, convenient and locally handled in the Justice Court. The clerk would have the necessary forms for you to complete. Further, no attorneys are able to appear for clients in small claims court.
Good luck.