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TJ, Esq.
TJ, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 9666
Experience:  Licensed to Practice Law
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Can an RV Rental service keep your RV hostage for a balance

Customer Question

Can an RV Rental service keep your RV hostage for a balance due for service performed?
Submitted: 1 year ago via ExpertLaw.
Category: Legal
Expert:  TJ, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hello and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you.

I'm not entirely sure I understand the business arrangement. Can you explain what you mean by this: "a breakdown of our RV on a rental"?

Are you saying that you own an RV, and you use a service to rent it to third parties? And that's when it broke down?

Also, does your contract state anything about this kind of situation?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
yes. we use a service to rent our motorhome to 3rd parties. the owner of the rental company over charged us and sent us a bill with it written at the top "payment due before picking up RV".

The contract is shotty at best. And the only clause that relates to repairs or charges to our account of any kind was crossed out and rewritten to say "all charges are to be approved by (rv) owner prior to any services performed". This was initialed by the owner of the rental service.

We have a geo tracker on our RV that logs the time it moves from point to point. The travel time was 6 hrs and we were billed for 12.

The botXXXXX XXXXXne is, can the rental service, who has no title to the RV what so ever, require payment before releasing our rv? And if so, what law says so?
Expert:  TJ, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi again.

Q: can the rental service, who has no title to the RV what so ever, require payment before releasing our rv? And if so, what law says so?

A: Based on the additional information that you shared, the answer is no. The contract itself doesn't seem to allow it. Moreover, you apparently didn't approve of the charges in advance. However, depending on the amount that is being requested, it may be easiest to pay and get back the RV. This is because getting the RV could prove costly. The police won't help because the RV wasn't stolen. Accordingly, they'll say it's a civil dispute. You could sue, and you'd likely win. But it'll cost you attorney's fees and take time. Also, the company will likely countersue for the charges that they say you owe. You may win that argument as well since the contract seems to require your approval, but I can't say that it's a sure thing. So, if we're talking about a few hundred dollars, I'd probably pay, get the RV, and never use that company again. But if we're talking about several thousand dollars, then it may be worth suing to get back the RV.

Does that answer your question? Please let me know if you need clarification, as I am happy to continue helping you until you are satisfied. Also, your positive feedback is much appreciated. Thank you for using our service!

If you would like to direct additional legal questions to me in the future, then please type "To VAMD" in the subject line of your question.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
yes, i understand what is the EASIER option. my mom would give me the same advice, just to pay and never use them again.

however, i wanted to know legally what are my rights and what are the rental service's rights regarding withholding my property for an outstanding bill. Wouldn't a normal business just send a bill and then send it to collections if not paid? what LEGAL RIGHTS do i have?

You referenced a civil dispute. But i don't understand how holding on to a 250k vehicle (which we have keys to still) is something any kind of business would do for a few hundred dollar bill?
Expert:  TJ, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi again. I apologize if my prior answer was not clear.

Q: i wanted to know legally what are my rights and what are the rental service's rights regarding withholding my property for an outstanding bill.
A: You have the right to get back your RV. If the company refuses to voluntarily give it to you, then you must sue and get a court order. The rental service can countersue you for the outstanding bill, though based on what you shared you may win against that claim.

Q: You referenced a civil dispute. But i don't understand how holding on to a 250k vehicle (which we have keys to still) is something any kind of business would do for a few hundred dollar bill?
A: I can't explain the company's behavior, except to say that they may figure that in most cases people will pay the bill for return of the RV, so that strategy may have proved to be a useful business model.
Expert:  TJ, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi again.

I noticed that you rated me poorly. I'd like to give you a reason to rate me higher, but I am unclear of the reason for the poor rating. Do you need clarification, or did I not fully answer your question? Please let me know what I can do so that you are satisfied with our service. I'll be glad to provide further help as necessary.

Thank you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I just don't feel like the answer(s) were legally descriptive which is what I was looking for in an answer.
Expert:  TJ, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi again.

I'm afraid that I don't quite understand what you mean by legally descriptive. Do you mean that you want me to describe the lawsuit itself, such as how to file? Or do you want me to describe the legal argument? I can do both, though I'll tell you now that you'd be foolish not to retain an attorney to handle the case for you (and if you do retain an attorney, then the details of how to file or the precise legal argument is pointless for you since the attorney will take care of it). Still, if you'd like that information, I'll be glad to provide it.

One thing to keep in mind is that you can't generally force anybody to do anything without a court order. Maybe it's obvious, but I mention it because sometimes people tell me "of course I knew that I could sue ... but I want to know how to get my [money, property, what-have-you] without suing. In most cases it is not possible, and sometimes those people are upset. The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that if somebody has something of yours, then you must generally sue to get it back (unless it was stolen).
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
ok
Expert:  TJ, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi again.

With regard to how to sue: You cannot sue in small claims court because of the value of the RV. It is not a small claims matter. So, you'll need to sue in Superior Court in the county where the company is located. That means you'll need to draft a Complaint. The Complaint must state the facts that support your contention that you are entitled to possession of the RV. You can see examples of Complaints on the internet if you search for "California Complaint PDF" (without the quotes). You can then file for a writ of possession called a replevin, which requests the court to order that the RV be returned. The law you'd cite is CA Code of Civil Procedure Section 512.010, which states:

512.010. (a) Upon the filing of the complaint or at any time
thereafter
, the plaintiff may apply pursuant to this chapter for a
writ of possession by filing a written application for the writ with
the court in which the action is brought.
(b) The application shall be executed under oath and shall include
all of the following:
(1) A showing of the basis of the plaintiff's claim and that the
plaintiff is entitled to possession of the property claimed. If the
basis of the plaintiff's claim is a written instrument, a copy of the
instrument shall be attached.
(2) A showing that the property is wrongfully detained by the
defendant, of the manner in which the defendant came into possession
of the property, and, according to the best knowledge, information,
and belief of the plaintiff, of the reason for the detention.
(3) A particular description of the property and a statement of
its value.
(4) A statement, according to the best knowledge, information, and
belief of the plaintiff, of the location of the property and, if the
property, or some part of it, is within a private place which may
have to be entered to take possession, a showing that there is
probable cause to believe that such property is located there.
(5) A statement that the property has not been taken for a tax,
assessment, or fine, pursuant to a statute; or seized under an
execution against the property of the plaintiff; or, if so seized,
that it is by statute exempt from such seizure.
(c) The requirements of subdivision (b) may be satisfied by one or
more affidavits filed with the application.


If you file the necessary affidavits and prove that you are entitled to the RV (which you should be able to do), then the court will likely grant your request and issue the writ. If the company still refused to give you the RV at that point, then you'd take the writ to the sheriff's office, and they'd go to the company and physically allow you to retrieve the RV.

Does that help? Please let me know if you need further clarification, as I am happy to continue assisting you.
TJ, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 9666
Experience: Licensed to Practice Law
TJ, Esq. and 19 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  TJ, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi again.

I should add that your argument for return of the RV is simply that you own it. It would be the company that would need to argue that even though you own it, the company should be entitled to keep the RV because the bill isn't paid. The company would need to provide a legal basis for that contention. For example, a clause in the contract which would allow it. Based on what you wrote earlier, there is no such clause. If the company can't successfully argue that is has a valid reason to hold the RV, then the court should rule in your favor.

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