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Anders's avatar

My renters ex-boyfriend is in jail. She is moving out and his stuff as in furniture and car are left behind.

Asked by Anders (15points) September 5th, 2010

I do not know if I am liable for his stuff being left. His car is broken down and he is gone for 3 months. His lease is up. What legally can I do with the stuff?
I need to rent the space out to someone else.

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7 Answers

chyna's avatar

You could try to contact him and ask if he wants you to have goodwill come and get it or have a relative pick the furniture up. I’m pretty sure you have no obligation to store it yourself.

Anders's avatar

His vehicle too?

FR07en's avatar

It goes to state law as to what your obligations are to what is likely to be considered “abandoned property.” In the state of Massachusetts, the landlord has the obligation to get a certificate of occupancy from the local inspection authorities before the place can be rented to new tenants. The inspectors will require the landlord to assume responsibility for the establishment’s cleanliness and safety levels in order to get this certificate. That would include clearing out all the past tenant’s belongings. If not stated in the lease, itself, the authorities will become involved, at the request of either the landlord upon the removal/ moving out of the current tenants, or the new tenants to take up residency. This, of course, is to insure the protection of all parties involved.

Remember, however, that the term “abandoned property” is based on laws and property codes within state laws. So all of this is dependent on what state the property is in.

In Texas, for instance “abandoned property” cannot usually be rightfully claimed as such for 3 years. That’s a very long time to have to hold onto someone else’s trash or treasures. And, too…if you can claim storage fees after than time, what’s to say the original owner of that property is in any better financial situation to come up with the money to pay back for your storing of his or her stuff all that time?

It’s simply best to provide some clause in your original lease for signing by a new tenant that provides for this sort of instance, so that if it does arise, you’re already within your rights and meeting your obligations. For, in the court of law, that’s what it ends up being about, who’s got the most ducks in a row.

So let it be you that’s lined them up all nice and neat for the judge and court to see. They’re much more likely to see your side of things when you have it all in writing and covered all your bases.

Anders's avatar

So the thought of loading up his open vehicle and putting it on the street where it could be towed would be illegal?
Just a thought!

iamthemob's avatar

@FR07en has given you a pretty thorough answer. The problem with what you suggest is that, technically, that’s his property more likely than not at this point. If you move it out of the apartment to re-rent, you should be putting it into storage, which you can later charge him for.

I think an it is important to ask whose name was the lease under. If it is just her, and she was holding onto his stuff, she should be taking it with her. Anything that she leaves behind in your place means that she may be in violation of the lease if you have any clause mandating that the place be in the same condition with all stuff moved out.

What state are you in? has great stuff on landlord rights, and links out to state law, that’s pretty cheap. But if you google your state and “landlord rights” or “tenant rights” or other combos there are some great state resources that are generally good on this. States like to make this information pretty publicly available.

FR07en's avatar

In most property cases, it goes to the plaintiff to provide the voluntary abandonment agreement, whatever the terminology, determined by the state, as to whether the property can be determined to be “abandoned” at all, or whether the owner disputes the claim of such abandonment. Oftimes people will say “I’m coming over tomorrow to get (this or that) thing, car, whatever.” And perhaps, at some point there was full intention to do so, however nearly as often, those same people either lose interest or absolute ability to return and/or take away all of their own property. It then becomes the responsibility of first, the landlord, and if petitioned to become involved (ie through the filing of suit against the tenant,) the courts, whereby then the statutes of law come into play.

I will say, though, it’s perfectly alright, I would think, to make mention to the tenant of the belongings that seem to be scheduled to be left in wake of the tenant’s departure. Thereafter, by the same token, if the tenant seems disinterested, a landlord is within his or her rights to seek counsel and court to protect his or her investments and rights under the law. I think as long as the landlord (or anyone, for that matter,) maintains their clear intentions to abide by the law (ie: meet his or her obligations under the law,) that law should then protect the rights of that person.

DrBill's avatar

You can store it and charge them for the storage, but you may end up with it if they refuse to pay the storage.

I cover this in my lease, anything left behind ......becomes the property of management….

PM your e-mail and I’ll send you exact wording

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