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  1. #1
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    Feb 2011
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    Angry Possessions Illegally Removed by Landlord

    My question involves an eviction in the state of: Virginia

    I was served with an eviction notice from the sheriff stating I had until 11am on January 27th to remove my possessions from the property. I had been in the process of moving things out for a few weeks (I could no longer afford the rental as I lost my job due to downsizing). I missed a phone call from the apartment management team on Friday, January 21st, but I did not return the call. I stopped by on 1/23 to remove a few more things, and planned on returning 1/26 to remove the remaining items and hand over the keys. A snowstorm hit on the 26th, so I decided to get up super early on the 27th to move things out. When I arrived, the locks had already been changed, and when I walked around back and looked into the apartment, everything was completely gone.

    I contacted the apartment property immediately, and just finally heard back from them via email today, stating that they assumed I no longer resided there since I had not returned their phone call and the papers were still taped to the door (which, is a lie because I removed them on the 23rd). They threw away several thousand dollars worth of my possessions, including files with receipts, my laptop, shelving, clothes, etc. My lease ended on 1/15, however I thought the writ of possession/eviction notice superseded this.

    I assume I have a case against them? I currently have a balance of ~$5K, however they threw away well over that dollar value in property.

    Thanks for the help

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Possessions Illegally Removed by Landlord

    The first question is what date was on the writ of possession. If it was the 27th, the possessions shouldn't have been removed pursuant to the writ prior to that date.

    The second question is whether, whatever your intention, your actions justified the landlord's belief that you had abandoned the unit. You claim the stuff you were slow to remove is worth $5,000; from what you say, to them it looked like garbage and they threw it out. You're free to sue them and let a judge decide.

    The notices on the door - we're talking about a statutory notice under Virginia Code Sec. 55-224? Or what?

  3. #3
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    Feb 2011
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    Default Re: Possessions Illegally Removed by Landlord

    I have the "request for writ of possession" dated 12/20/2010, and the actual eviction notice from the Sheriff stating "Pursuant to a Writ of possession issued by the XX General district court, you are advised to vacate the premises by 11:00am on January 27th or it will be necessary to evict you." Both of those papers were the papers that were attached to the door, which I removed.

    The only way I think they can justify saying it looked like I had abandoned is the lack of shower curtain and bed. Other than that, I also had a sectional couch, TV, laptop, books, bike parts, DVD player, clothes, etc.. I'm just shocked.

  4. #4
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    Mar 2008
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    Default Re: Possessions Illegally Removed by Landlord

    Quote Quoting mauldinl
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    I assume I have a case against them? I currently have a balance of ~$5K, however they threw away well over that dollar value in property.

    Thanks for the help
    I don't think so.

    Can you prove you were there before 11:00AM as stated, and all the stuff was gone?? If not, the landlord would probably have people swearing the stuff was still there at that time. Whether or not the notice is still on the door on the 27th, you never the less received the notice much earlier than this, and read it.

    After 11:00AM Jan 27, they can do whatever they like with your stuff.

    Legally, if they locked you out after that, they have every legal right, which is why landlords get the Sheriffs involved in these cases, so the tenant can't say "all my valuables were illegally disposed". My attorney advised me through the years to always use the Marshalls to do it, as in his experience, when landlords try to do it themselves, tenants always claim they came in before they're supposed to, and thousands in valuables were gone.

    I've landlorded for nearly 30 years, you wouldn't beleive the number of stories landlord friends I hear about why stuff was there after the vacate date and time, including there was a major accident on the highway, I had car trouble, my kid just got sick that day etc. In your case, you got the snow storm.

    In one case I saw on Judge Judy, the tenant sued in an almost identical situation. The Sheriff arrived with the landlord. But the landlord also hired a security guide service, a moving service, plus someone to video tape opening up the tenants rental unit. The video taping started with a walkaround of the premises, which was pretty much cleaned out at the time.

    The tenant claimed thousands of dollars of stuff was taken, with a list. The landlord video tape showed nothing of the sort, the place was almost empty, with junk that had to be cleaned up. The tenant claimed the landlord came in earlier than he should. The landlord had affadavitts from the sheriff, the security service, the movers, the video taper saying otherwise.

    So Judy Judy asked the landlord why she thought of hiring all these people to essentially clean out a virtually empty apartment. The landlady explained she knows her tenant well, he works for an attorneys office, and she fully expected him to pull the stunt of filing that lawsuit with all the wild claims.

    The tenant's final claim was the landlady probably came in earlier and cleaned the place out. The landlady thought of that too. The security service was hired to watch the rental unit for a number of days for 24/7 before that, and the security service swore they witnessed no one entered or left at the time.

  5. #5
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    Feb 2011
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    Default Re: Possessions Illegally Removed by Landlord

    Quote Quoting SChinFChin
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    I don't think so.

    Can you prove you were there before 11:00AM as stated, and all the stuff was gone?? If not, the landlord would probably have people swearing the stuff was still there at that time. Whether or not the notice is still on the door on the 27th, you never the less received the notice much earlier than this, and read it.

    After 11:00AM Jan 27, they can do whatever they like with your stuff.
    I emailed the landlord around 8am on the 27th, stating I arrived to find the apartment completely empty, cleaned, locks changed etc. I have an email response from them stating that they had already changed the locks and thrown away my belongings. This is what I'm trying to figure out - they weren't allowed to touch anything BEFORE 11am, correct? So, since I have in writing, from the management company, that they removed my belongings before the date outlined by the courts, wouldn't I have a little leg to stand on? Would this be considered breaking and entering, theft, etc since they entered my apartment and admitted they removed and disposed of my belongings before the date/time they were allowed to do so?

    I definitely see your point about people coming up with excuses and fabricating possessions that weren't ever in there... and its something I hadn't even thought about being up against. I appreciate the heads up. Unfortunately, in my case, it really was several thousand dollars in possessions. Who throws away a Macbook?!

  6. #6
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Possessions Illegally Removed by Landlord

    Quote Quoting mauldinl
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    Who throws away a Macbook?!
    who leaves a Macbook in an apartment they are no longer living in?

  7. #7
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    Feb 2011
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    Default Re: Possessions Illegally Removed by Landlord

    Quote Quoting jk
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    who leaves a Macbook in an apartment they are no longer living in?
    I have 3 computers, and that was my oldest/cheapest. I was using it there because my internet had not been hooked up at the new place yet. I get what you're saying though... a bad decision for sure.

  8. #8
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Possessions Illegally Removed by Landlord

    based on what you said, you might have a shot at winning a suit against the LL for tossing your stuff before 11. If you do this in small claims court, it's relatively cheap so even if you lose, you don't lose much.

  9. #9
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    Mar 2008
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    Default Re: Possessions Illegally Removed by Landlord

    Quote Quoting mauldinl
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    I emailed the landlord around 8am on the 27th, stating I arrived to find the apartment completely empty, cleaned, locks changed etc. I have an email response from them stating that they had already changed the locks and thrown away my belongings.
    Then you have proof that they threw out your stuff before the permitted date and time. I agree with JK you can go after them in small claims. it was pretty stupid of them to legally obtain an eviction, then mess in up, and admit it in writing, according to what you said.

  10. #10
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    Feb 2011
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    Default Re: Possessions Illegally Removed by Landlord

    Quote Quoting SChinFChin
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    it was pretty stupid of them to legally obtain an eviction, then mess in up, and admit it in writing, according to what you said.

    Thats what I thought - but it seemed so insanely careless (obtaining the legal eviction, then ignoring it, disposing of my property before they were legally allowed to via eviction, then telling me that they did so before the date in writing) that I figured I was missing something that would make it legal. I appreciate everyone's help - Looks like small claims it will be.

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