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Personal possesions after arrest.

Hawthorne, CA |

A friend of mine "Tom" lived with another friend of mine "joe". While living with joe Tom was behind on his share of the rent and owed Joe some money. Tom got in some trouble and got arrested. After Tom's arrest Joe moved from the residence and took all of Tom's possesions with him. Now Tom is out of jail and Joe tells him that he won't give him his belongings unless he pays him what he owes. What legal action can be taken on either party's part? Thanks in advance

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

Both of these situations are within the purview of small claims court. Joe can file for past due rent and Tom can file demanding his possessions returned and/or market value damages for the loss of possessions.


I see this as a cohabitation and/or landlord-tenant situation in the absence of there being a gay/familial relationship between Tom and Joe. If Joe rented to Tom, Joe might have had rights to store and sell Tom's items to satisfy unpaid rent. If not in a landlord-tenant relationship, their rights and remedies would be guided by express, implied, and implied-in-law contracts and possibly equitable principles. Since you aren't a party to the grievance I am ending my comment now.


I agree with Erin's analysis. This is a matter for small claims court if damages of each party is less than the $10,000 max for small claims (i.e. less than $10K of rent owed to Joe and less than $10K of tangible personal property owed to Tom).