Attorney Trey Wilson - RL Wilson Law

16 September 2008


Is the landlord ever justified in seizing a Tenant's property?

Yes, but only if the Tenant is delinquent on the rent and the lease gives the landlord a lien on the Tenant's property. Such a provision must be underlined or in bold print in the lease.

In seizing the property under a landlord's lien, the landlord may not take exempt property, but may remove non-essential items (TVs, stereos, VCRs, CD players), provided s/he can enter the apartment peacefully. But s/he must do the following:

The landlord must leave a notice of entry along with a written inventory of the items removed.
The notice must state the name, address, telephone number of the person whom the tenant may contact about the amount owed.
The notice must show the amount of delinquent rent and state that the items will be promptly returned when the full amount of delinquent rent is paid.
The landlord cannot collect or charge for parking, removing, or storing items unless authorized previously in a written lease.
In addition, a landlord may remove property if a tenant abandons the unit. If a landlord obtains a court order of eviction, the landlord may also remove the tenant's property, but this must be done under the supervision of a law officer.

Can the landlord sell a Tenant's possessions in order to recover back rent?

Unless otherwise permitted in the written lease, any property seized by a landlord under a landlord's lien cannot be sold or disposed of. If the lease permits such a sale, the landlord must give the tenant 30 days written notice before the date of the sale. This notice must be sent to the tenant by both first class and certified mail, or Return Receipt Requested at the tenant's last known address.

Trey Wilson --Named By Scene in SA Magazine As One of San Antonio's Best Real Estate Litigation Attorneys -- September 2008 -- As voted on by peers