If a roommate owes you money can you keep their belongings?
My friend owes me a small amount of money. She has left a small TV and microwave in my apartment. Can I keep these items as payment or will I go to jail?
You should not under any circumstances take the TV and microwave as satisfaction of the debt as the friend can claim that you converted her property unlawfully. Plus, you were not given these items as security for the debt in the event that your friend fails to pay. If you are going to accept these items as a satisfaction of the debt, then you should get your friend's permission in writing to resolve it this way. What I suggest that you do is file a lawsuit in small claims court against your friend. Hopefully the friend calls you and pays you back. If she does not, the court will assign you a trial date and you can go to court to argue your case. If your friend does not appear, the court will enter a judgment against her as long as your story is credible (some courts enter a judgment without you having to appear if the defendant fails to timely appear). After you get a judgment, you can have fill out a bank execution (go to the clerk's office at the small claims court as they will show you how to do this) and a marshal will try to locate where your friend banks at and take the money out of her account to satisfy the judgment. You can also have the marshal do a property execution where you can legally take have the marshal take possession of the tv and microwave and either give it to you or auction it off and give you the money towards repaying the judgment. Furthermore, if you know where your friend works, you can ask the court to issue a wage garnishment for the balance of the judgment. I suggest that you first send your friend a letter warning her of a lawsuit.