I bought some wood in 2009. There was a misunderstanding on sizing and i couldnt use it. The wood broker made an agreement that if i bought the correctly sized wood from him if he would agree to sell the wood i could not use for me at what i paid for it. He and I agreed and there was a contract. I then bought the wood from him. It was about 50k worth of wood. The contract stated that he would use his expertise and best efforts to sell the wood for me. He did not. I sold some along the way on my own and about 14 k worth of wood remains. The contract stated he would warehouse the wood for me for one year and after that if he could not sell it he had the right to give me notice to remove the inventory within 72 hours. In the agreement I had the right to give him 24 hours notice of my intent to get my property. I sold the remaining wood and when i sent the buyer to get it the broker refused and said i owed him 5800 for storage. apparently he just arbitrarily decided that he could charge me 300 a month storage without notifying me or giving me the opportunity to remove the wood. After formally notifying him in writing of my intent to have the wood picked up by the buyer he refused again. He said he was going to keep the wood and start selling it to pay his false invoice or keep it until i paid him. I have to believe this is illegal and would be considered theft. I presume the property is mine and he must release it to me and if he believes he is owed money he will have to prove he notified me and that i was aware there was a fee. He openly admitted he did not provide any notice but he thought it was reasonable. Someone cant just make up a fee, not give notice, allow it to accumulate, keep the property and then sell it to pay a false claim can they? Is this theft?? Blackmail? something? I am extremely frustrated. I had a buyer and now i have lost that opportunity and the buyer was put in a really bad bind because he was counting on the wood for his business. I have to believe this makes the broker liable as well.. correct? Any guidance is appreciated.
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): Georgia
Written communication to the broker stating the facts as well as a phone conversation. He just wants to hold me hostage until he is paid his arbitrary amount.
Hello and welcome,It does not appear that the contract provided any basis for the seller to charge storage costs to you. In addition, you are correct that a party cannot normally sit idly by and charge someone for something they have not agreed to pay. So there would not normally be any basis in the law for him to charge the storage costs without any notice to you, since you could have made other arrangements for storage had the seller provided notice.It does appear the seller is holding your property hostage in an attempt to extort money from you, which is illegal. However, since you do have a contract, filing a police report is not likely to give rise to criminal charges against the seller as the police will likely indicate this is a civil dispute.What I would do is retain a local attorney to communicate a demand to the seller that he immediately release your property or be held liable for your losses. If the opportunity has passed to sell the wood to someone, then the attorney may forgo communicating a demand and simply file suit for damages you have sustained as a result of the seller's conduct.He has also breached the contract it appears since he did not assist you in attempting to locate a qualified buyer for the wood, so you could typically seek damages due to that breach as well.
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What if there is not a contract. Originally he said we had a contract and he had a signed one and when he realized there was no storage fee he changed his mind and said we didnt have a signed contract. He sent me his when he made his demands for payment but it was not signed. I cannot find the signed contract in my files. I know i have it somewhere but what are my options if i cant find the signed contract. Can i then claim theft if there is no signed contract?
Hello again,It would typically be apparent to the police that you had some kind of agreement, whether reduced to writing or not, so they would not likely take any action against the seller.You could still pursue legal action against the seller, but it is more likely that a court would award him the reasonable costs of storage if there is nothing in writing, but you prove the wood belongs to you.It would be best if you can locate the written contract.
there was an agreement. He admitted he signed it and delivered it in writing but he just does not have a copy. How can someone charge a fee when there was no notice. If so why couldnt he say 1000 a month or just make up some arbitrary fee? It seems completely unrealistic to believe someone can make something up, allow that made up amount to accumulate with no notice, and then at some future date when i notify it has been sold to decide he wants to make money from it and hold the material.
Courts can act in equity and if he is successful in persuading the court of the value of storage, and you cannot prove that he agreed to provide free storage, then the court could award him the reasonable value of the storage provided. The fee would not be arbitrary but based on proof submitted by the seller indicating the value of the storage provided.
15 years of legal experience including real estate law.
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