Personal Property Demand Letter

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Updated December 01, 2022

Or use an attorney at ContractsCounsel to write a demand letter.

A personal property demand letter is an official request for items owned by an individual or other entity. The demand should include proof or describe the reason why the personal property is not under the ownership of the person of the current person or entity in possession. There should also be dates when the property must be returned to its rightful owner or else legal action or small claims court filings will begin.

How to Get Your Stuff Back (Legally)

If at any time a person should find themselves in a situation where their personal items are in the hands of someone else, luckily there is a way to legally get your stuff back. Although, it will involve the owner showing proof of the items in question and demanding the items within a reasonable timeframe.

Step 1 – Verify Ownership of the Property

person on computer searching for electronic statements

Unfortunately, the saying “possession is 9/10 of the law” is true. Unless someone can prove they own something, they may not be able to successfully get their property back. The good news is with receipts and bank statements being saved electronically it should not be hard to remember when an item was purchased in order to prove it was bought by its rightful owner.

Step 2 – Look Up Laws

person researching state laws online

Before writing the demand, it’s best to perform a search of the laws in your State if the property is able to be contested. For example, an engagement ring is considered a “conditional gift” in most States, although, if given on “special days” such as a birthday, Christmas, or Valentine’s day it becomes the property of the receiver.

Step 3 – Write the Demand Letter

screen showing eforms template for personal demand letter

When writing the demand letter, it’s best to describe the story of how the item became in the possession of the other person or entity. The demand letter may used as evidence in court, therefore, the description of events must be as specific and descriptive with attachments and exhibits to be used as sources.

Step 4 – Find as Much Evidence as Possible

person reading documents closely for evidence

After the demand is written, it’s best to use as many sources as possible to prove that it is, in fact, the owner’s property. Eyewitness accounts from friends and family can be used as testimonies to support the person’s claim.

Step 5 – Send the Demand via Certified Mail

manila envelope with certified mail tag

The demand should be sent by Certified Mail with Return Receipt. This verifies to the person currently in possession of the property that they have been served with an official notice which can be used in court at a later time.

Step 6 – Take Legal Action

judge overseeing case in court

If the person in possession of your property refuses to give up the property, the only recourse will be for the owner to make a claim in their local court. For higher valued items, an attorney is always recommended. For items less than that, specifically below $5,000, it’s best to go through the local Small Claims Court (See State Maximum Amounts).


How to Write a Personal Property Demand Letter

Download: Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word (.docx), Open Document Text (.odt)

1 – Obtain A copy Of the Personal Property Demand Letter

The Demand Letter to regain personal property can be saved to your machine by locating then selecting the “Adobe PDF,” “MS Word,” or “ODT” button featured with the preview on this site. Notice, you may also obtain any of these file versions using the links above.

2 – Introduce This Paperwork With Standard Heading Information

Locate the word “From” at the top of this page on the left. The four blank spaces in this area require the full name of the individual or entity sending this demand on the first of these lines and the complete address where this party may be contacted on the remaining blank spaces. It is customary to give a letter that demands a payment a specific calendar date when its Recipient can consider it in effect. To this end, input the calendar month and day then the year of this letter across the two empty lines following the label “Date” Another standard item found on most correspondence is an opening where the intended Recipient is specifically named as such. Thus, find the blank line after the word “Dear,” then furnish the full name of the individual who must return the property this letter will discuss. 


3 – Produce Some Debt Details To The Body Of This Letter

The first sentence of this paperwork will need some information in order for it to be complete and to apply to the Recipient, the property, and the Sender. First, report the concerned property that the Recipient is in possession of and must return. Make sure this property is fully identified for instance, if it is an automobile, report the VIN and License Plate Number along with its details.  Next, the Sender of this document, that is the Owner of the concerned property, must self-identify in the declaration statement making up the second sentence. Place the Property Owner’s full name on the blank line preceding the phrase “Demand That You Return…” 


4 – Execute This Demand By Signature

This letter contains some powerful language for a reason. However, it will usually only be taken seriously if a formal signature is provided by the Sender at the end of it. A blank space beneath the closing term “Sincerely” at the bottom of this page.