PLEASE HELP!!! Personal Property Left Behind After Closing

21 Replies

I purchased my first investment property in Chelan, Washington in December of last year. It is an owner contract deal, no agents or lawyers involved. The seller is a neighbor at another property that my boyfriend owns so we would like to stay on good terms with him if at all possible.

Here is the problem... the house was FULL of his stuff. The house, garage, shed and crawlspace were all completely packed full. Since this is a "buddy deal" we were naive, and too trusting and didn't stipulate a timeline for removal of personal property in the contract. We helped him pack all of the stuff in the house and made two 80 mile trips to move his stuff with our pickup truck and trailer, with no reimbursement for fuel. We remodeled the interior of the house, working around a boat that was in the living room (yes, you read that correctly, a boat... in the living room) for about 3 months. Now the remodel is almost complete and we are going to be ready soon to list it on Airbnb. There is still a camper and a bunch of junk in the yard, the shed is still full, the garage and crawlspace still have some things in them. We are both at our absolute wits end. I feel that we have been MORE than lenient and reasonable. We have not only given him 7 months, but have helped him move stuff as well.

My question is when it comes down to it (and it will) do I have the right to sell these things or give them to charity? I am not looking to charge him for storage or disposal. (His only income is our house payment, it would be a waste of time trying to get any money from him.) I just need this stuff gone ASAP. In a few weeks when this place is ready I will be losing $200 a night in prime tourist season as a result of his junk in my yard.

If anyone has any experience dealing with this type of situation your advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Karin: 

I would think it is time to make a "formal" demand for the removal/disposal of his personal property.   I would outline all that you have done to this point - including the lack of gas reimbursement- the work you have done while accommodating the pretense of his property but the time has come to for you to have the full use and enjoyment of your home.  I would tell him that is is difficult to have to take this position but given the lack of action o his part you need to do something. 

Take you time writing it and don't be afraid to take a stance that tell him he is a valued friend but things need to change.

I hope this all works out for you. 

Steve 

While it's too late to help now, I always stipulate in the contract what stays and what goes - and I don't close until the property is cleared of "what goes."  

I think the problems you have now - after a year - are:

His stuff is still there, you have acknowledged that the items belong to him by helping him pack/deliver the items, and continue to provide storage at no cost with no demand for its removal.  It could be argued that you agreed to store these items indefinitely by the simple fact that they're still there.   

I recommend the following:

1.  Let him know that you need everything off the premises in 7 days (and give the specific date).  I would also communicate this in writing as well so you have proof of the demand. 

2.  Do not allow for more time.  It's already been a year so more time isn't the problem.  Just stress that in order to use the property in the way you always intended, these items must be removed now.  I would also let him know that the items pose a trip hazard and, as such, you risk your insurance eligibility.  

3.  Disclose what happens on day 8 if the items are not removed:  you will call a charity or two and let them take what they can and that you will have a receipt from the charity sent to him (photograph everything that is there and everything removed; obtain a receipt for yourself and send one to him).  After that, whatever is remaining will be thrown away.  Take a photograph of these items too.

Again, just be sure to put your demand in writing and photograph the contents still remaining.  No good deed goes unpunished (and I've learned this lesson over and over and over again so I'm not judging!).    

And, congrats on your soon-to-be AirBnb business!   

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Yep, demand letter with a deadline.  After deadline, items will be removed at his expense and stored for 30-45 days, then sold.  You have done enough.

Give him a call in a panic stricken voice  "  Hey XXXXX  I am sooooooo sorry but you wont believe what happened , we were robbed , somebody broke in over the weekend and stole ALL your stuff .  They also took my hammer and circular saw .  Sorry    Then smile as you watch the dumpster get loaded on the truck 

@Karin Torbenson unless stipulated in an agreement to closing, what is in or on the property shall become the possession of the new owner... unless, it is hazardous waste..

a clearly written agreement is always best policy..

@Karin Torbenson

You have the right to remove and dispose of the contents. Take pictures of everything in case he claims he claims you took his bag of gold. If he were to sue you just say to yourself "How would a reasonable Jury decide the matter?".

Originally posted by @Karin Torbenson:

I purchased my first investment property in Chelan, Washington in December of last year. It is an owner contract deal, no agents or lawyers involved. The seller is a neighbor at another property that my boyfriend owns so we would like to stay on good terms with him if at all possible.

Here is the problem... the house was FULL of his stuff. The house, garage, shed and crawlspace were all completely packed full. Since this is a "buddy deal" we were naive, and too trusting and didn't stipulate a timeline for removal of personal property in the contract. We helped him pack all of the stuff in the house and made two 80 mile trips to move his stuff with our pickup truck and trailer, with no reimbursement for fuel. We remodeled the interior of the house, working around a boat that was in the living room (yes, you read that correctly, a boat... in the living room) for about 3 months. Now the remodel is almost complete and we are going to be ready soon to list it on Airbnb. There is still a camper and a bunch of junk in the yard, the shed is still full, the garage and crawlspace still have some things in them. We are both at our absolute wits end. I feel that we have been MORE than lenient and reasonable. We have not only given him 7 months, but have helped him move stuff as well.

My question is when it comes down to it (and it will) do I have the right to sell these things or give them to charity? I am not looking to charge him for storage or disposal. (His only income is our house payment, it would be a waste of time trying to get any money from him.) I just need this stuff gone ASAP. In a few weeks when this place is ready I will be losing $200 a night in prime tourist season as a result of his junk in my yard.

If anyone has any experience dealing with this type of situation your advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

 Man with buddy deals like this who needs enemies lol. Normally I'd say that you should just throw all his crap out but I think you brushed over the most important aspect of your deal. You purchased this on contract with no agents or lawyers. We need to hear more about this to see what type of leverage this guy has over you guys. How did you do this deal? Does he still hold title or do you? I am guessing based on the wording that you used that he is still holding the title. That isn't an ideal situation for you. A better situation in a seller financed scenario would be one where you take title and he holds a mortgage that is recorded. Provide some more insight into the details of the purchase agreement and financing terms and I will go from there.

@James Wise

We signed a quitclaim deed, had it notarized, and filed it with the county. As far as anyone is concerned we own the house outright. We also signed a real estate contract that we both have notarized copies of, but it is not on file anywhere. We mail him his monthly payment and that is that.

@Karin Torbenson

I would send him a letter giving him 30 days notice to clear his stuff out or it’s gone. Then just bite the bullet and get rid of it. Since it’s been so long it’s obvious he doesnt want the stuff and it will just continues I get in your way.

@Karin Torbenson Has he said he even wants the items that are still left in the home? Just have him sign something saying he is giving you permission to dispose or donate the items as you see fit. 

If he is saying he wants certain items give him a week to get them out and then start giving them away or throwing them out. 7 months is plenty of time for this guy to figure it out if he wanted to. Sounds like he is just taking advantage of the situation because he knows he can at this point.

Originally posted by @Karin Torbenson:

@James Wise

We signed a quitclaim deed, had it notarized, and filed it with the county. As far as anyone is concerned we own the house outright. We also signed a real estate contract that we both have notarized copies of, but it is not on file anywhere. We mail him his monthly payment and that is that.

 Then you are in the driver seat. I'd put his stuff in the trash this afternoon and be done with it.

Originally posted by @James Wise:
Originally posted by @Karin Torbenson:

We signed a quitclaim deed, had it notarized, and filed it with the county.

 Then you are in the driver seat. I'd put his stuff in the trash this afternoon and be done with it.

Provided he is the sole owner and owned fee simple, verified with a thorough O &E title search. Without title insurance, there are additional steps we need to take.

Any death of  or divorce from while he owned?  Any liens?  Any aliases? Ensured proper legal description, rights of way and subject to's?  I could have quitclaimed it to you and I don't even know the address. 

I'm all about self-closing proper SF deals, but don't forget a thorough professional title search. First American will do them for $150 here and have saved my bacon more than once.

And get a better quality deed next time.  I bet he would have done a General Warranty, at least Special.  QCDs are dollar store flimsy out here.  Move up.

Take pictures of all the properties he left in the house and send it to him. Tell him if he don’t come to take away the properties in a period (a week?), you will have the right to handle these property and he is considered give up the right.

Thank you everyone for your responses! As I said I am new to all of this and I want to be sure that there are no legal ramifications for getting rid of his things. He has said that he wants them, but after 7 months enough is enough! I am going to notify him in person and in writing that he has 2 more weeks. After that it is going bye bye. I will be sure to take pictures of everything as well. Thank you again, I appreciate it so much!

Originally posted by @Karin Torbenson:

Thank you everyone for your responses! As I said I am new to all of this and I want to be sure that there are no legal ramifications for getting rid of his things. He has said that he wants them, but after 7 months enough is enough! I am going to notify him in person and in writing that he has 2 more weeks. After that it is going bye bye. I will be sure to take pictures of everything as well. Thank you again, I appreciate it so much!

 You have no legal requirement to do anything for him. You have been ridiculously accommodating. What I would do is put everything out on the tree lawn for trash pickup then text him a photo of it letting him know where it all is if he'd like to get it before the garbage men get there.

Originally posted by @Steve Vaughan:
Originally posted by @James Wise:
Originally posted by @Karin Torbenson:

We signed a quitclaim deed, had it notarized, and filed it with the county.

 Then you are in the driver seat. I'd put his stuff in the trash this afternoon and be done with it.

Provided he is the sole owner and owned fee simple, verified with a thorough O &E title search. Without title insurance, there are additional steps we need to take.

Any death of  or divorce from while he owned?  Any liens?  Any aliases? Ensured proper legal description, rights of way and subject to's?  I could have quitclaimed it to you and I don't even know the address. 

I'm all about self-closing proper SF deals, but don't forget a thorough professional title search. First American will do them for $150 here and have saved my bacon more than once.

And get a better quality deed next time.  I bet he would have done a General Warranty, at least Special.  QCDs are dollar store flimsy out here.  Move up.

yup private party quit claims in OR and WA can be uninsurable to future .. also it appears the seller is not to bright they have an unsecured loan with the buyer..  wow..  

PS Chelan is one of the best kept secrets in the US.. I would love to own a home there..  My grand father had a hardware store there in the 30s.. 

@Jay Hinrichs

What do you mean by uninsurable in the future? Forgive my ignorance, as I said this is my first investment property. I am just learning about all of this.

You are correct in that the seller is not very bright. Luckily for him we are not the kind of people who will screw him over. He was so behind on property taxes that he was about to lose the house in Chelan. Our monthly payment is his only source of income. We got an amazing interest rate, he didn't lose the house, and he has an income for the rest of his life. It was a mutually beneficial situation... until this mess with all of his stuff still being there!

Originally posted by @Karin Torbenson:

@Jay Hinrichs

What do you mean by uninsurable in the future? Forgive my ignorance, as I said this is my first investment property. I am just learning about all of this.

You are correct in that the seller is not very bright. Luckily for him we are not the kind of people who will screw him over. He was so behind on property taxes that he was about to lose the house in Chelan. Our monthly payment is his only source of income. We got an amazing interest rate, he didn't lose the house, and he has an income for the rest of his life. It was a mutually beneficial situation... until this mess with all of his stuff still being there!

title companies wont insure title many times that has been done between parties and without formal closings taking place and with a quit claim deed.. you may want to talk to a local title company and buy title inruance now.. would be worth it.. or if they refuse then you know you need to clean It up..unless you plan on never selling it.. ( which many do) but most end up somewhere down the line wanting to sell.