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What to Do When Someone Refuses to Return Borrowed Property

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Last updated 10/21/2019

What do you do if a person refuses to return your property that you voluntarily lent them? Do you file a police report? What remedies do you have? This article addresses what you can do to get your property back.

Should I File a Police Report?

Filing a police report is probably not an option for you as you voluntarily gave away your property and no crime was committed.

Ask for Your Property Back

Lawsuits are complex and expensive. It is thus better to solve things through dialogue before you take your case to court. This could be through a demand letter or through less formal procedures. A demand letter is a letter that summarizes your claim and the relief you are seeking. If the person still refuses to return the property, then consider filing a civil suit.

Remember, breaking into the person's home to take back your property is never a solution. It may result in trespass charges.

File a Civil Lawsuit

As your case is a civil matter, you need to file a lawsuit in a small claims court demanding the return of your personal property. You must pay the required fees and conform with the requirements before you file your case.

This will likely be a tort claim for restitution or a claim for conversion. You can file a conversion suit to reclaim the value of your property when someone else, without your consent, either damages or fails to return it. You can also sue for negligence or other cause of action as it fits your case.

Make sure to retain copies of any documents, conversations, email, or phone logs that show you actually had an agreement to get your property back.

Note that laws may be different from one state to another. You should make sure to do your research before filing a civil suit.

Additional Resources

An Attorney Can Assist With Your Civil Lawsuit

Did someone borrow your property and refuse to return it? Depending on the value of the property, consulting with an experienced litigation and appeals attorney might be worthwhile to help assert your rights.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified attorney to help you navigate the challenges presented by litigation.

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