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What are my rights as a family member helping another family member

I helped my Brother and his wife from July 1st thru December 17th this year. They were previously asked to leave their previous residence, and were now homeless and out of work. There was no written agreement between us, but rather an understanding of what I was expecting of them during their stay, while they got back on their feet. There was a verbal agreement to pay 100.00 per week for room and board and to help around the house and put in for groceries. We allowed them use of my husbands pickup truck to look for jobs and do their errands. Most weeks, we paid for the gas so they could use the truck! I paid for the 10 hr. Osha online class so my brother could get a job,which he did complete and was eventually hired. To avoid going on and on and on about how bad this went, Let's just say no money was ever exchanged even after employment began for my brother. Many promises were made, and nothing came to fruition, Do I have any rights? My brother and his wife decided they would move while my Husband and I were out to a family function without telling us. We came home to most of their belongings gone. They left a large flat screen television and a newer Queen size bed complete with Mattress behind. I told them they could not have this furniture without paying me what was owed. Needless to say, they are not happy. They owe is including the rent, $5500.00 Really I would have settled for the gas, cigarettes, Osha class, and a fewother things they promised to pay us back for, Which is about $2500.00 But the way they left (and this is not the first time they've done this to people) I'm just not willing to give them their furniture until I see some cash.

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To be on the safe side, I would treat them like any other tenant at will.  In Massachusetts landlords do not have the right to retain personal property of tenants in order to attempt to collect rent.  If I were you, I would call them up, ask them to bring a check, and tell them to take their stuff.  Then, sue them in housing court for the amount they still owe you.

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