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Good afternoon. Your ex-landlord is not legally entitled to hold your boat hostage even if you owe him money. Only had he sued you and obtained a judgment would he have the right to take the boat in satisfaction of the judgment. You can contact the district attorney's office and file a criminal complaint...they may or may not be willing to pursue this since you originally gave the ex-landlord the authority to safe-keep the boat and want you first to pursue this on the civil side. On the civil side, you absolutely have a cause of action against your ex-landlord. You would want to file a civil suit for your damages
to give you the leverage and collection options that are needed. Once the suit is filed and a judgment awarded, you become a judgment creditor, and if the losing party doesn’t then pay the judgment, you can have the sheriff serve a summons on the losing party for a debtor examination. That forces the losing party to meet the judgment creditor in court and answer questions under oath about the losing party's assets. After that information is obtained, the judgment creditor has the power to garnish wages, attach bank accounts, have the sheriff seize other personal property, and/or place liens on any non-homestead
property to satisfy the judgment. It's likely as part of the judgment, the court will order your boat returned to you..and if the ex-landlord then fails to return it, he will be in contempt of court and subject to criminal and/or civil sanctions.
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