I moved away for school when I was 19. At the time, I was living in my parents' house and left most of my possessions.

While I was away for school, my parent's got divorced. I'm not clear on the details, but I think my dad moved out first and forced my mom to sell the house so he got his portion back. Both of my parents now live in different places, though they obviously emptied the house before moving out.

I would now like some of my belongings back, such as winter boots. I asked my mom and she said she doesn't know where anything is. I asked my dad and he said I wasn't 19 when I got most of those things so they aren't mine. Is that true? Does it matter if they were gifted to me?

  • 1
    I can't speak for Canada, but minors in England and Wales can certainly own property. (Why didn't you go home and get your stuff when they cleared the house?) Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 13:55
  • Related law.stackexchange.com/questions/14273/…
    – Dale M
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 23:22
  • @MartinBonner they didn't tell me they were clearing the house until after the fact
    – snowchym
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 21:32

3 Answers 3


Fact is, your things are gone, disappeared, you are not going to get them back. You can try to get money by suing your parents. But suing your parents is rarely a good long term strategy. Your father made some argument why he isn't going to give you any money for your losses; whether it is a good or bad argument is irrelevant until you take him to court, and then what counts are the arguments that his lawyer will make, which will be much better arguments.

In court, you would have to actually prove your losses. Have you got a receipt for your winter boots? How long ago is "when you were 19", important to estimate their value now. You would have to prove that you didn't just abandon everything. Did you just leave, or did you sign a contract that your parents should look after your things, and you would pay them some rental fee for the space in their loft, for example? How many years time did you have to pick up your things?

  • The OP could report his parents for theft. The difficulty (apart from the likely damage to parent/child relationships) would be establishing who had stolen the goods by disposing of them. Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 13:53
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    @MartinBonner: he can't report his parents for theft, he can report a theft and say he suspects his parents. If they then respond with "talk with my lawyer", it's probably going to be hard to get enough evidence for criminal conviction.
    – jmoreno
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 4:22

Can parents throw out belongings you have kept in their house?

Legally, it depends :-). In particular, it depends on the agreement you had with your parents, i.e. whether they promised they would keep your belongings. However, even if they promised nothing, they would probably have been required to warn you they were going to throw them away, and give you time to get them if you wanted to.

Unfortunately, that has not happened. At this point, legally, the only thing you could do would be to sue for damages. However, to successfully sue them, you would have to convince a court that you left certain possessions with them, and that they threw them out without telling you - both of which might be hard to prove. Even then, you would probably only get back the present value of your belongings, which for used clothing and other personal items will probably not be much. So in practice it might not make sense to sue (totally ignoring that it would probably also sour your relation with your parents).

I asked my dad and he said I wasn't 19 when I got most of those things so they aren't mine. Is that true? Does it matter if they were gifted to me?

No, and yes. In general, minors can and do own property, so your being a minor when you got these things does not automatically mean they do not belong to you. However, if your parents bought them for you, it might not be clear whether they were intende as a gift to you, or just loaned (e.g. with the intention to later pass them on to your younger sibling or friends). However, if they clearly were gifted (e.g. birthday present from your aunt), they belong to you.


I believe that there is a time frame in which unclaimed possessions on someone's property become owned by the landholder. The duration of this probaby depends on your location.

Your personal property is indeed your property. And under the agreement of being a tenant, the owner of said property does not have the right to remove your possessons until after a duration in which you have officially moved out. Whether you were still technically living there or had a right to use the property as a storage facility depends on a lot of factors.

A judge could laugh at your case and throw it out of court unless the means of your suit is truly justified, because suing your parents over something frivolous isn't generally considered acceptable.

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