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Locked out

Discussion in 'Other Residential Landlord & Tenant Issues' started by KyleW, Jan 8, 2016.

  1. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    To make a long story short,
    My sister and Step-Father moved into my Step-Father's girlfriends house several months back (not too sure when). The day after Thanksgiving my Step-Father passed away unexpectedly which ended up sparking up a lot of drama.

    I don't know the reason for sure but the girlfriend changed the locks on the door so now my sister can't get it the premises to get her big ticket items like bed, dresser, etc.

    This passed Sunday, the girlfriend called my sister to let her know that it was scheduled to rain and to come get her items that she threw out in the yard. While doing so, she broke some of my sisters dresser drawers when she was trying to open them up to sift through them and get her clothes out to put out in the driveway as well.

    My sister has been trying to contact her via phone, text, and knocking at the door for just about a week to let her in and get her items, my question is, what do we have on our side to help us get the stuff?

    I understand that there was no "rental agreement" but there has to be something on our side that protects my sister from having her items kept and running the risk of abandonment. I do plan on going over there with my sister and a Sheriff to make sure that both parties are covered and to try and make everything go over a lot more smoothly.
     
  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Whether or not there was a rental agreement is likely irrelevant at this point with regard to your sister's right to compensation for the destruction of her property.

    She is free to sue the girlfriend in small claims court and has a good chance of winning.

    However, please understand that she would only be entitled to the Actual Cash (used) value of the property.

    To further understand why the girlfriend is liable, read about bailments at:

    Bailment - Everything2.com

    Bailment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  3. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    Thanks for those links I will read up on them when I have time after work to try and understand the legal mumbo jumbo. I am just kind of hoping for a short term resolution to this with the understanding that even the Sheriff Deputy can not force her to open the door and allow my sister to retrieve any of her items left.

    I'm totally oblivious to this law stuff (hence why I am asking for advice) but one of the concerns is probate!!! I guess since technically all of my sisters belongings belong to my step father and a bunch of his items are there like furniture which we would like to get but probably not going to happen, is there anything that the probate process may have to help in our favor? Because she is "taking from the estate"?
     
  4. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Yes, probating the estate will put the power of the court behind whoever steps up to administer the estate. That isn't going to help any time soon but it could result in sanctions against the girlfriend at some future point.

    Frankly, though, I think an immediate lawsuit for money (small claims court) is going to be the fastest way to resolve the loss of the property.

    People tend to fear lawsuits and the prospect of going to court, especially if they know they've done wrong.

    Suing in small claims court is quick, cheap, and informal. Probate (which may have to be done anyway) is slow, expensive, and complicated.

    One thing, however. You originally wrote that the property was your sister's and now you write that the property is your stepfather's. If the latter is the case, then probate will have to be opened and the representative of the estate will have to sue on behalf of the estate.
     
  5. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    Maybe I was unclear as I am kind of unclear about a lot of this stuff but I will try ;)

    My step-father and my sister moved in with the girlfriend (about 90% sure she is on the lease so she is a tenant, the other 10% is that both my step-father is also on the lease). Regardless, they all lived together, and my sister collects mail there, has a bedroom, and now an outdated house key. My sister was locked out of that house that all 3 of them were in. I hope that makes sense haha
     
  6. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I doubt there will be anything of significant value left to probate, assuming the estate was of significant value to probate.

    However, your relative can contact the local police agency and request them to do a "civil standby" while she retrieves some of her valuables.

    Normally the police will meet her at the address, when the owner is home, allowing her 15-20 minutes to retrieve property not in dispute.

    Anything more than that will have to be addressed via the legal process.
     
  7. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    Yeah, she tried that once after she received a text from the girlfriend allowing her to come and get her stuff but when the time came and with the authorities there no one answered the door.

    I am trying to investigate anything that we can do legally to kind of throw the fear of pressing charges that will make her answer the door and let my sister grab her things. But if I can't try to press charges like grand theft or vandalism then I don't think it will be much of a scare and cause her to open up for the fear of her kids going to her estranged husband and held against her in her their custody battle.
     
  8. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    I think we've given you all the advice we can give.

    Perhaps it's time for your sister to consult an attorney.
     
  9. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    Yeah I think that is what it is going to have to come to. Thank you guys for your help and advice to get me on the right track of where to look.
     
  10. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Yes, that is a trick used by some of the vermin.
    It helps if these crooks have regular schedules.
    Being there when they arrive from work, call the cops, stay outta sight, wait for cops, sometimes works.

    I'm afraid that most (maybe ALL) of the valuables have been swapped for drugs, or whatever other pleasure these vermin delight in doing.
     
  11. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    I think I may have come up with an idea to get in if she opens the door by saying we just want to take inventory of belongings that need to go into probate without taking anything out of the house. This way we can take pictures of the stuff to have on file to "estimate" worth my other sister can go over there when she becomes executor of the estate and has a little more power than we do to kind of demand the items.

    And as a sign of good faith, we can say we may over look the self-help eviction she performed by not providing any notice of eviction whether it be a 3, 30, or 60 day notice. She even has the text messages telling her to come get her belongings from the driveway because it's supposed to rain along with pictures.

    But thank you both again for the pointers. I will try my best to make sense of it all haha
     
  12. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    What makes you think she'll open the door to you after all she's done so far?
     
  13. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    Because I am the more reasonable one between the 3 of us kids. I will be the first to admit that my little sister is no angel. And also the fact that we can take her to court and place a lien on her since we would be squeezing blood from a turnip.

    If we can't get in then for sure we will start up court proceeding against her for at least the illegal eviction. By her admission through text messages, she told my sister to get her stuff from the front yard and pictures were taken of it.

    And after some additional research with this I came to find out that the girlfriend owns the residence jointly with her estranged husband, which technically gives her the right to full access to the house and apparently my sisters belongings and evictions are slightly different with a live in landlord but she still cannot take matters into her own hands if I read correctly.

    Now with that said, since the husband still owns the house, if we reached out to him would he be able to let us in the house? Of course I would still bring authorities to try and keep this civil. But that would also depend on if he is willing to help?
     
  14. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Yes, any OWNER of any home can LEGALLY admit anyone to the home.
     
  15. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    That's what I figured but unfortunately that's not was able to happen due to the house being solely in her name. But we went there officially with the county sheriff and he did what little he was legally able/obligated to do. She told him that we can email her a list of the items we want and she will arrange for them to be set outside for us to pick up. But that just gives her a way to get rid of the items or say she doesn't have them at all.

    It's a shame but it's the way it is I suppose. The only thing left is an attempt at small claims which I am worried about because.....

    My sister never paid rent but my step father was paying the house payment every month. Now if I read the law correctly, in the state of CA my sister can be entitled for up to $100/day in damages for the illegal eviction. What I am unsure on is the # of days notice she is entitled to. Would it be 30, 60, or 3? And also when does the $100/day start?

    I don't think it can be the 3 day notice due to the fact that she didn't do any illegal activity or damage the house and technically she never stopped paying rent because she never started and rent was never even asked or discussed about my sister. But regardless of what her reasoning is about my sister being locked out, she can't do it.

    I started looking up on how and what to do in order to get small claims rolling and it says that we must ask for money owed that we are asking. What would be the money owed? It's not like my sister didn't have any where else to go and where she is at she doesn't have to pay a dime. So, would we just ask for that $100/day starting from the time she was locked out? Or would we wait and ask for $3k for 1 months worth of damages or up to (I believe) $5k for 2 months of damages?
     
  16. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You could bring a lawsuit for the value of the items she is allegedly keeping.

    Make sure you can prove ownership and value.
     
  17. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    The ownership is going to be the hardest part. Everything is my step fathers and I doubt we can find all the receipts if any. She is not that dumb and gets help from her local law enforcement brother. Currently I am trying to have my sisters find pictures of them with some stuff in the other house as a last ditch effort to try and sway a judge.

    If we can't find anything then I have no clue what to do. It's just amazing what people would do to a family that has lost someone who this person claims was the love of their life.

    And what's a huge shocker is that my step father leased a car for her (in his name) because she has no real income and she is allowed to keep it until his bank (checking account bank) finally realizes he passed and freezes his bank account, and then they decide they want to repossess the vehicle.

    This vehicle is not even insured and she drives it around even after a night of partying. We can't even do a voluntary surrender of the vehicle because we can't get to those keys.

    My sister did at least notify that bank to inform them of his death and to let them know he is not married so she can't just say "He's my husband, transfer it over to me"
     
  18. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    Also anyone reading this:
    Ensure you have a living will and trust PLEASE!!!! You don't want to put your family through this, it's a lot of drama
     
  19. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    A living will has nothing to do with this. If the property isn't really hers, your sister may have to wait until the estate has gone through probate to get it. If he "gave" the furniture to the gf, then it is legally hers. if both sis and gf claim it was given to them, off to court they go. This does not apply to things which were clearly the sister's property such as clothes and personal items. If he moved the furniture into her house and did not have a will that specified what to do with those items, gf at least has a decent argument to make that they were given to her.

    If the stuff was put out in the yard for sis to pick up, did she do it?
     
  20. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    The house where the girlfriend is, is in fact hers, there is no arguing that. Where the will and trust comes into play is all this probate and the he said/she said non sense.

    But yes, the furniture was my step-father's and not the girlfriends in which I know she has a decent argument to say that he gave it to her. Knowing my step-father (which the courts do not, and this isnt "evidence"), if it wasnt in her name then he didnt buy it for her or give it to her. This also applies to the vehicle she is driving around in, its leased out to him and her name is no where on the lease.

    As for my sisters belongings, yes she did go get them and took pictures of all of her items on the sidewalk/driveway. Regardless of anything, that is illegal. I am having my sister do her due diligence and talk to some people that she knows which is a paralegal and may be able to offer her some sound advice on what we can/can not do and what is ideal to do.
     

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