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I recently moved out of a shared living accommodation. After moving out someone complained that the (shared) glove for removing hot items from the oven was missing. I had my own glove that I took and when I checked I now have two. They look almost the same so I guess I took theirs.

My ex-landlord (who is actually just the lease holder with the owner) is looking for all kinds of reasons not to return my damage deposit. In general money was always a source of conflict and both of us believe the other owes more money. Though I hope not, I suspect I'm going to have to take the ex-landlord to court.

I had a desk which belonged to me. I left it in a shared storage area. The ex-landlord had taken it to his room to use. Upon moving out I told the ex-landlord he could keep it for $40 or put it by the door and I will take it. He never returned it. (though I only know he took it because he verbally said it once, so I can't prove it). When someone asked if I took it I replied "I thought it was mine". I also messaged the ex-landlord "you still have my desk, if you agree I can keep the glove I'll consider this resolved". He replied with a lie saying the desk is his.

So what should I do with the oven glove? I can return it by leaving it in the mailbox. Could "admitting" to this leave me open for legal attacks if we go to court? One oven glove is slightly nicer than the other so I'd like to know which is his. How can I find this out? Should I bring up the desk and say something like "you need to agree to return my desk if I return the oven glove"? Probably not worth thinking about but since it was a shared oven glove, I don't know if there is an "owner". Should I ask for a receipt?

The ex-landlord claimed the oven glove was $40 but I suspect it's more like $20 especially considering it's used. He also started complaining a hall near my room was left in a messy state. This hall was shared and I was never asked to clean it. I don't recall it being messy when I left. If it really is a concern I could go back to sweep it out.

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    Why don't you just return the glove, apologise for mistakenly taking it, and claim your desk? – Greendrake May 21 at 4:49
  • @Greendrake what if they say they have already bought a replacement glove? Also the landlord just said he's blocking my email and wants no further contact with me (presumably so I can't ask for my desk back). – dutyanalysing May 21 at 6:45
  • You should send them an email asking them what arrangements they want to make for you to return the glove. If they truly have blocked your email, then they won't respond, and you can keep the glove. You have a responsibility to make a reasonable effort to return the glove. Putting up with their "I'm not talking to you" games is not reasonable. – Acccumulation May 21 at 20:45
  • @Acccumulation so if he doesn't reply to any of my messages I don't have to give it back? Or should I just drop one off at this door? – dutyanalysing May 22 at 8:28
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If you innocently took the oven glove by mistake there is no possibility of criminal consequences. Now that you know it is not yours, you must return it as soon as possible.

You may be liable for the losses caused by taking the glove, and that could extend as far as some fraction of the cost of a replacement glove if they have already replaced it.

You cannot (legally) hold his glove hostage for the return of your desk.

Deciding which glove is which is tricky. Given the cost of new oven gloves, I would go round with both and ask him which is his. Even if he takes the nicer one which isn't his, you are only down a few dollars.

The messy hall should be a separate question (and risks being closed as asking for specific legal advice - I think you need your own paid-for lawyer for that).

  • The phrase "no possibility of criminal consequences" ignores the possibility that a prosecutor might disagree that OP took the glove by mistake. This is obviously unlikely in the case of an oven mitt, but it would not be implausible with an object of greater value. – phoog May 28 at 18:55

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