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Old 2010-03-22, 22:38   Link #1
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Join Date: Nov 2003
is there a lawyer here?

I am having a dispute with my roommates. We don't get along and we have serious issues. One of them is about furniture. Let's just deal with furniture for now. There are two pieces of furniture we both want. One belonged to a previous roommate we both know but moved out already. There is no way to find her now. One day before she moved out, she told me that she had too much stuff and was willing to leave all the furniture in the apartment. Apparently, she told one of my roommates that she left it to her. Now they want to take the furniture but I want it, too. To me, they can't produce evidence that the previous owner actually gave it to her, how can they claim that it is theirs? But I don't have evidence about what I said, either. Who does this furniture belong to now? What can I do to keep it? They could just move it when I am not at the apartment. How can I prevent that?

The other piece of furniture belongs to nobody. Well, it has been in the apartment for so long that none of us know who the previous owner is. Now they are taking it because they said it doesn't belong to me. But it doesn't belong to them, either. Who does it belong to now? What can I do to keep it? They could just move it when I am not at the apartment. How can I prevent that?

I talked to police but they said this is for a lawyer. Well, where can I find a lawyer and what kind?

Update: I don't know how to link the post to this. Please scroll down.
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Old 2010-03-22, 23:55   Link #2
james0246
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The key here is property rights, and based on your description, neither of you hold specific rights to the furniture. So, my initial question to you is, who has rented/leased the apartment longer? If you can establish that you have been in "possession" of the objects longer than your roommate (i.e. physically been near the owned furniture or used the objects longer - in your case, I think you were in "possession" of the objects longer, but your roommate claims that the "departed" gifted her/him the furniture; if this is the case, then I would say you had a greater "right" to the furniture simply because your recent roommate moved in after you already had "possession" of the objects, consequently if they cannot provide solid proof that the objects were "willed" to them, then they have no real claim on the object), then you might have a "right" to the objects. Otherwise, if you have equal "ownership" of the objects, then you would have to prove a greater sentimental value than your roommate...unless they can provide equal or greater sentimental value, in which case you are back to square one.

In the end, a compromise might be your best option. There are 2 pieces of furniture (or furniture sets), so why can't you take one and your roommate take the other?

If this is truly important to you, though, I would recommend that you consult a legal professional (I am, by no means, a legal professional), and not someone you can just talk to online...
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Old 2010-03-23, 00:11   Link #3
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We all live here (been physically close to both of the furniture) but I am the longest tenant here. You are right about none of us has specific right to it. So from what you say, I can't prevent them from taking it because I don't own them. But, from what you say, is it true that they don't have the right to take it away, either, because they don't own it as well? I need to know this so I can tell them they don't have the right. They already told me that they are taking it anyway. They already took away some stuff like this. Can I just put it in my room? Do they have the right to ask me to take it out from my room? They already took things like this and I really don't want to lose these two. No, we already tried to compromise and it didn't work.
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Old 2010-03-23, 00:45   Link #4
Hage-bai
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We all live here (been physically close to both of the furniture) but I am the longest tenant here. You are right about none of us has specific right to it. So from what you say, I can't prevent them from taking it because I don't own them. But, from what you say, is it true that they don't have the right to take it away, either, because they don't own it as well? I need to know this so I can tell them they don't have the right. They already told me that they are taking it anyway. They already took away some stuff like this. Can I just put it in my room? Do they have the right to ask me to take it out from my room? They already took things like this and I really don't want to lose these two. No, we already tried to compromise and it didn't work.
Horde, one of the two pieces for yourself (maybe the piece that isn't claimed to be reserved for the roomate) and let your fists do the talking should the roommate try anything (assuming you're both guys, otherwise I guess you gotta give the tantrum treatment if you both ladies) . Grow a backbone and be straight with that foo.

You could also take it to the goodwill store to fock the roomate over. Good stuff. Someone more deserving could use it then.

If all else fails. apply to get on Judge Judy...seriously. Unless the furniture is antique, you're probably better off settling this without lawyers or the such. Its all about the numbers. Something America has forgotten for the last decade.
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Old 2010-03-23, 00:51   Link #5
james0246
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You should really get a mediator to help both of you solve the issue, because handling it by yourself will simply result in a very messy, and painful (probably more emotionally than physically), fight. As for the other roommate "stealing" the various objects...well, placing the object(s) in your room (especially if it has a lock) should offer some form of protection, but if you have to leave the residence, then even if you technically posses a greater "right" to the property, there is not much you can do unless you wish to push the matter and attain actual professional help. In fact, if you place these objects in your room, and then your roommate takes them, then you do have the right to call the police and claim that your roommate has stolen from you (which would directly lead to professional help, one way or another ).

Again, it is very hard to show who owns the property in this case, but the fact that you have been in possession of the objects longer does have some significance in a legal discussion, especially if the roommate cannot prove the objects have been gifted to them.

I really do urge you to contact someone there who can either provide legal support or at least moral support (in other words, see if you can get a friend to watch your back).

Hage-bai does bring up a good suggestion, can you give the objects to a friend to hold on to? Getting the objects away from your roommate should be your main concern if they are not willing to talk, and if you can get them out of the house itself, that would be even better than simply storing them in your room.
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Old 2010-03-23, 00:52   Link #6
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Haha, thank you for your support. Seriously, I would like to know if they don't have any legal right to the furniture because they can't produce evidence that the furniture belong to them. They can't take it away. If I just put the furniture in my room, they don't have the right to ask me to take it out or even go into my room and grab it, right?
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Old 2010-03-23, 00:55   Link #7
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Originally Posted by james0246 View Post
You should really get a mediator to help both of you solve the issue, because handling it by yourself will simply result in a very messy, and painful (probably more emotionally than physically), fight. As for the other roommate "stealing" the various objects...well, placing the object(s) in your room (especially if it has a lock) should offer some form of protection, but if you have to leave the residence, then even if you technically posses a greater "right" to the property, there is not much you can do unless you wish to push the matter and attain actual professional help. In fact, if you place these objects in your room, and then your roommate takes them, then you do have the right to call the police and claim that your roommate has stolen from you (which would directly lead to professional help, one way or another ).

Again, it is very hard to show who owns the property in this case, but the fact that you have been in possession of the objects longer does have some significance in a legal discussion, especially if the roommate cannot prove the objects have been gifted to them.

I really do urge you to contact someone there who can either provide legal support or at least moral support (in other words, see if you can get a friend to watch your back).

Hage-bai does bring up a good suggestion, can you give the objects to a friend to hold onto? Getting them away from your roommate should be the main thing you are doing right now, and if you can get them out of the house itself, that would be even better than simply storing them in your room.
We don't have any mediator. What do you mean by getting a friend to watch my back? If I don't have the right to it, how can I take it away from the apartment? Wouldn't I be doing what they did, as in not the right thing to do?
No, knowing them, if I did take away the furniture, they would just take away more things to get even. Should I talk to a lawyer?
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Old 2010-03-23, 00:58   Link #8
Hage-bai
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Haha, thank you for your support. Seriously, I would like to know if they don't have any legal right to the furniture because they can't produce evidence that the furniture belong to them. They can't take it away. If I just put the furniture in my room, they don't have the right to ask me to take it out or even go into my room and grab it, right?
Well I can't speak for what is legal in terms of taking furniture in your room. But lets say that happens. If the police refuse to deal with it, then i guess you got small claims court. As time = money, figure out if that piece of furniture is really worth it.
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Old 2010-03-23, 01:05   Link #9
james0246
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Originally Posted by guest View Post
Haha, thank you for your support. Seriously, I would like to know if they don't have any legal right to the furniture because they can't produce evidence that the furniture belong to them. They can't take it away. If I just put the furniture in my room, they don't have the right to ask me to take it out or even go into my room and grab it, right?
They do not have the right to the furniture (I thought I already explained that). And, if you simply put it in your room, then they do not have the right to enter your room and attempt to take the furniture (and if they do, you can call the police, as I also said). They did not buy the objects, and you have had them in your "possession" longer, so they have no specific right to the property. And, if they cannot show that the objects were gifted/willed to them, then they have no rights at all to the property, whereas you have some.

And, if this is really important to you, then talking to a lawyer is the correct choice. But, then, as Hage-bai mentions, it will require you to spend money on furniture that may be relatively easily replaceable (if you are fighting over a few hundred dollar sofa, then it isn't worth your money to fight for the sofa, but if you are fighting for something expensive, then you should spend the money (in the end, if it costs more to retain the furniture than it would to simply buy new furniture, then the furniture isn't that important, but if you would save money by fighting for the furniture, then fight, even if it means getting a lawyer).
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Old 2010-03-23, 01:29   Link #10
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They do not have the right to the furniture (I thought I already explained that). And, if you simply put it in your room, then they do not have the right to enter your room and attempt to take the furniture (and if they do, you can call the police, as I also said). They did not buy the objects, and you have had them in your "possession" longer, so they have no specific right to the property. And, if they cannot show that the objects were gifted/willed to them, then they have no rights at all to the property, whereas you have some.

And, if this is really important to you, then talking to a lawyer is the correct choice. But, then, as Hage-bai mentions, it will require you to spend money on furniture that may be relatively easily replaceable (if you are fighting over a few hundred dollar sofa, then it isn't worth your money to fight for the sofa, but if you are fighting for something expensive, then you should spend the money (in the end, if it costs more to retain the furniture than it would to simply buy new furniture, then the furniture isn't that important, but if you would save money by fighting for the furniture, then fight, even if it means getting a lawyer).
Thanks. I figure that it is important to know if they have any legal right for it. Why fight for stuff when they have the legal right to it? I am all for if it's yours, do as you wish. If not, absolutely not. I don't want to go to a lawyer because of the reason you said. I just want to council with a lawyer about the situation. After all, I don't want to do something illegal accidentally, for example, they actually have legal right to it (but I don't know about it) but I put it in my room. I will be in trouble.
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Old 2010-03-23, 04:38   Link #11
Dorfl
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Forget the furniture and buy your own already. Unless it's a $20,000 antique, it's not worth fighting over. Let them have it and get on with your own life. At this point it sounds like you're just being stubborn about the furniture to prove a point, but even if you "win" now it will be tainted with all the bitter, angry feelings, and you'll be looking over your shoulder for years. Go to Ikea and get yourself another couch/chair/table that's all yours.
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Old 2010-03-23, 05:59   Link #12
LynnieS
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Note: I'm not a lawyer...

Neither one of you have any proof of the actual furniture's owner. To take one or both by either of you is problematic; the person other than the taker has, theoretically, a claim of theft that he can make. The chances of the police wanting to get involved, though, aren't too great, IMHO; they'll likely confiscate the furniture, give you both a court date, and let the judge sort it out.

Given the length of time involved, though, I would say that the furniture would be considered communal property at the moment, and would belong to all of the apartment's residents.
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Old 2010-03-23, 13:33   Link #13
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Forget the furniture and buy your own already. Unless it's a $20,000 antique, it's not worth fighting over. Let them have it and get on with your own life. At this point it sounds like you're just being stubborn about the furniture to prove a point, but even if you "win" now it will be tainted with all the bitter, angry feelings, and you'll be looking over your shoulder for years. Go to Ikea and get yourself another couch/chair/table that's all yours.
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Originally Posted by LynnieS View Post
Note: I'm not a lawyer...

Neither one of you have any proof of the actual furniture's owner. To take one or both by either of you is problematic; the person other than the taker has, theoretically, a claim of theft that he can make. The chances of the police wanting to get involved, though, aren't too great, IMHO; they'll likely confiscate the furniture, give you both a court date, and let the judge sort it out.

Given the length of time involved, though, I would say that the furniture would be considered communal property at the moment, and would belong to all of the apartment's residents.
What they said... + when the value of the furniture is less than the costs that are to be expected when things go to court - I would not insist on a legal fight, that would be an econimcally unwise decission. You need to consider, that no matter who is right or wrong, sometimes both parties can only loose in a legal fight.
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Old 2010-03-23, 15:05   Link #14
cheyannew
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And you also IMO need to look at finding new roomies o.O
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Old 2010-03-23, 20:46   Link #15
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This morning I thought it over and realized that, like some people here said, I was just angry and being stubborn. If I do this, somewhere down the road, I will realize that and all I can remember will be the angry and bitter feelings about fighting with my roommates over some used and old furniture, which isn't worth fighting for. So I decided that I am not going to do this. I told them what I just said and told them that they can have the furniture. They just don't care. One of them just moved out an hour ago, yeah, very suddenly or they just didn’t want to let me know. The other is moving out next week but seemed to be more understanding. I do feel sad about this. But at least, my conscience is clear. Now I just need some time to recover, forget about this, and get on with my life. Thanks for everyone who tried to help. I really appreciate it.
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Old 2010-04-21, 20:43   Link #16
chichi13
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so you mean you just gave everything away? well .. this is just an opinion . over such stuff why dont you get some of it in a right manner.. they might be polite if you would ask for some of knowing that nobody really owns it.. having some of it is not bad than arguing for everything in it
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