Answered by Shaykh Umer Mian
Question: As Salam Alaykum,
What is the ruling of using the kitchen stuff left by a person who ran away and didn’t pay the rent for his lodgings within my property?
Answer: Wa alaikum as-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
First, if possible, you should attempt to contact your debtor and get them to repay the debt voluntarily. If the person is a Muslim, you could remind them that debts which are not paid in this life will be repaid in the Hereafter with the debtor’s good deeds. Also, whether the person is Muslim or not, you could contact someone that has influence over them such as a parent, older sibling, friend, community leader, etc. Such people may be able to convince the person to repay their debt.
If the above fails, you should attempt to recover the debt owed to you through legal means, i.e. through your country’s justice system.
If all of the above fails and you fear there is no other means to recover your debt, it would be permissible for you to keep the personal property of your debtor and consider it as payment for your debt. Ibn Abideen explicitly states in Radd al-Muhtar, the primary source of fatwa in the Hanafi madhab, that this is the position for fatwa in our times.
وَأَطْلَقَ الشَّافِعِيُّ أَخْذَ خِلَافِ الْجِنْسِ لِلْمُجَانَسَةِ فِي الْمَالِيَّةِ . قَالَ فِي الْمُجْتَبَى وَهُوَ أَوْسَعُ فَيُعْمَلُ بِهِ عِنْدَ الضَّرُورَةِ (الدر المختار، كتاب السرقة)
وَالْفَتْوَى الْيَوْمَ عَلَى جَوَازِ الْأَخْذِ عِنْدَ الْقُدْرَةِ مِنْ أَيِّ مَالٍ كَانَ لَا سِيَّمَا فِي دِيَارِنَا لِمُدَاوَمَتِهِمْ لِلْعُقُوقِ (رد المحتار، كتاب السرقة، مَطْلَبٌ يُعْذَرُ بِالْعَمَلِ بِمَذْهَبِ الْغَيْرِ عِنْدَ الضَّرُورَةِ)