Good afternoon. Unfortunately, you are not legally allowed to hold his possessions hostage until and unless you get a judgment against him for the money he owes you. But, you can pursue him for the money he owes you. For any claim up to $5,000, you can file this in small claims court without a lawyer. Filing the suit will give you the collection options and leverage you need to collect the debt owed you. That's because once the suit is filed and a judgment awarded, you become a judgment creditor, and if he doesn’t then pay the judgment, you can have the sheriff serve a summons on him for a debtor examination. That forces him to meet you in court again and answer questions under oath about his assets. After that information is obtained, you have the power to garnish wages, attach bank accounts, have the sheriff seize other personal property, and/or place liens on any non-homestead property he owns to satisfy the judgment.
This is the part of my job I don't like...when the law is not in favor of my customer. I wish I could tell you that you are entitled to hold his possessions until you are paid, but, I can only provide you information based on the law so that you can act on the best available information to you. ………..I wish I had better news, but can only hope you recognize and understand my predicament and don't shoot the messenger. I'm sorry!
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