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Long story short, I had a roommate and we broke things off in a very negative way.

We jointly rent an apartment in Los Angeles, but she has since moved out and taken ALL of her things. The only things that remain are my own. This is currently her last month with her name on the lease before we switch to my new roommate next month.

She however, refused to pass over the keys to myself and has held onto them. She essentially has access to the property at all times, whether I'm home or not, sleeping or not. All of the things on the premise are mine, and the only one staying here is me.

It's an incredibly frustrating and frightening situation as I am afraid for both myself and my property.

She already has come over once prior unannounced, entered the home and started riffling through my things while I was present. She stated that she is coming over on Saturday for unstated business.

Is there any legal argument for me denying her access to the premise for the protection of my own things? I realize that she has rights to the space, but does that imply she has rights to the things within the space?

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She has no legal right to your stuff, and every legal right to the apartment. The only way adjudicate such a conflict of rights is with a restraining order. A temporary order would expire in 3 weeks. Item 14 in the petition requests exclusive use, possession, and control of the property. However, that path of restraints is tailored to domestic violence, so item 27 has you describe the alleged abuse:

Abuse means to intentionally or recklessly cause or attempt to cause bodily injury to you; or to place you or another person in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or to harass, attack, strike, threaten, assault (sexually or otherwise), hit, follow, stalk, molest, keep you under surveillance, impersonate (on the Internet, electronically or otherwise), batter, telephone, or contact you; or to disturb your peace; or to destroy your personal property.

Note that the description refers to destroying your personal property, not pawing through it. It's really impossible to know if the judge will exercise his discretion to include "reasonable fear of destruction (or theft) of personal property", since the ex-roommate has no further interest in the apartment.

There is an alternative path of a harassment restraining order, which does not require a defined domestic relationship (such as ex-roommate), where "harassment" is

violence or threats of violence against you, or a course of conduct that seriously alarmed, annoyed, or harassed you and caused you substantial emotional distress. A course of conduct is more than one act

and that seems even less likely.

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  • Spot on. I was formulating a response in my head as I was reading the question, scrolled down, and saw almost exactly what I had planned on saying in your answer. – ohwilleke Jul 13 '17 at 1:15

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