Would you throw out your tenant's personal belongings?

20 Replies

Read this: https://www.newsweek.com/landl...

Different states have different laws, but I wouldn't throw away items of value! If it were me, I would have placed these items in storage and only returned them when the Tenant paid me what was owed, to include moving and storage costs.

What does your state allow and what would you do?

In Ohio, you need to first make a legitimate contact to the tenant and provide them a reasonable opportunity to reclaim their belongings. After that, you can throw out or sell the items as you wish.
I would probably stay consistent with this route as there isn't much room for other options after you have already contacted the tenant and received a null response. 

In my county once the items pulled out through an eviction hit the curb that's it.  No saving or storing anything is required on the part of the landlord.  I haven't found much of value after a move out or an eviction (well, my son and I once found a packet of what we assumed were drugs and I suppose the tenant would have found that of value but we presented the stuff to our local police instead) but I am a big one on recycling intact furniture to our local Habitat and Catholic Social Services organizations to avoid good stuff ending up in the landfill and donating canned goods to our local soup kitchen.  I did find a small box that contained the ashes of dog that had been cremated and contacted the tenant but they never responded back indicating they wanted it.

In one of our neighborhoods we sometimes time how long it takes to have others claim any furniture left on the curb.  The record was 2 minutes.  Placed a couch in pretty good shape out there and three people who were on the corner ran over and asked if we were keeping it.  When I said no two "claimed" it by plunking themselves on the couch and the third ran home to get some transportation to haul it.  They then knocked on the door and asked if we had anything else to give away.  I was able to get rid of some beat up pots and pans and they helped me clean out the frig and gladly took all the no name hotdogs, luncheon meats and something that might have passed for margaine. 

Promotion
Obie Insurance
Coverage for your rental
Get a quote for your rental property in 2 minutes or less.
Save on landlord insurance. A transparent, simple, and affordable way to protect your investment.
Start Saving

If they don't care enough to take it with them or let me know they will be back in a day or two to get it, then I have no problems giving it away or throwing it in the garbage.  I've found there are a lot of groups and people who will take the items.  It can be as simple as putting it on the curb or dropping it off at a charity.  Anything that is trash...well that goes to the dump.

In the article they say "it allows landlords to act the instant a tenant does not vacate a home after the time frame allotted in an eviction order."  The tenant knows what the date is and has time to move out.  It isn't like they show up without lots of notice and they don't know they are being evicted.  It may sound harsh, but they know what is coming and should have moved their belongings out before then. If they didn't, they have no one to blame but themselves.

@Theresa Harris , I agree about the tenant having plenty of notice.  They know they didn't pay rent and were ordered by a judge to vacate and chose not to.  The only victims here are children if there are any since their parents didn't make arrangements for their stuff and the landlord who was left with more work.  Evictions aren't immediate and there was plenty of time to make arrangements.  Personally I would have been tempted to try to sell some of the items to help recoup losses or donate them, but this could have muddied the water, once they are in the trash there isn't much the tenant can do.  

Originally posted by @Theresa Harris :

If they don't care enough to take it with them or let me know they will be back in a day or two to get it, then I have no problems giving it away or throwing it in the garbage.  I've found there are a lot of groups and people who will take the items.  It can be as simple as putting it on the curb or dropping it off at a charity.  Anything that is trash...well that goes to the dump.

In the article they say "it allows landlords to act the instant a tenant does not vacate a home after the time frame allotted in an eviction order."  The tenant knows what the date is and has time to move out.  It isn't like they show up without lots of notice and they don't know they are being evicted.  It may sound harsh, but they know what is coming and should have moved their belongings out before then. If they didn't, they have no one to blame but themselves.

Why don't you have a profile image after all these years/posts? :)

My only issue is with items of value. If it's a stained mattress, pots/pans, and other junk, donate it or toss it. If it's something of real value or sentimental value, I make the judgment call to store the items (aka: hold hostage) in hopes of collecting money in exchange for giving the items back. 

Originally posted by @Nathan G. :
Originally posted by @Theresa Harris:

If they don't care enough to take it with them or let me know they will be back in a day or two to get it, then I have no problems giving it away or throwing it in the garbage.  I've found there are a lot of groups and people who will take the items.  It can be as simple as putting it on the curb or dropping it off at a charity.  Anything that is trash...well that goes to the dump.

In the article they say "it allows landlords to act the instant a tenant does not vacate a home after the time frame allotted in an eviction order."  The tenant knows what the date is and has time to move out.  It isn't like they show up without lots of notice and they don't know they are being evicted.  It may sound harsh, but they know what is coming and should have moved their belongings out before then. If they didn't, they have no one to blame but themselves.

Why don't you have a profile image after all these years/posts? :)

My only issue is with items of value. If it's a stained mattress, pots/pans, and other junk, donate it or toss it. If it's something of real value or sentimental value, I make the judgment call to store the items (aka: hold hostage) in hopes of collecting money in exchange for giving the items back. 

Because I tend to avoid photos ;)

The two times I had to evict someone, there was plenty of time and opportunity for them to come and take stuff.  Even though they owed me rent, I wouldn't have sold anything that was important to them (eg family heirloom) just to get the money I was owed.  Of course one of the ones I evicted had no problem selling stuff that was mine, but that's another story.  Learn from the past to avoid repeating the same mistake, but look forward to the future.

It totally depends on your local laws. Here in Oregon we must store them for 30 days and notify the tenant. After that we can do as needed.   Ad I guess I would donate what is useful and dump the rest. 

for folks that are saying the tenant had plenty of notice - so obviously they are struggling....  maybe some are jerks but maybe some are really in a hard time and just dont have the ability to do everything as you would like. Throwing away or giving away someones personal items just because you can is another reason why LLs are enemy #1 of the people.    

Its possible to be a decent human *and* make money  

also, i would never hold someones item "hostage" to get back rent.   that is just cruel. Esp if it is how someone earns their living (computer, etc) 

@Nathan G.

We once had to evict a former friend we were helping out (never again—he stayed for 6 + years) that we eventually had to evict. After eviction he was given 45 days by the court ordered “mediater”. Eviction itself took 3 months to get through but that was part of a 1+ year “ordeal” after we gave him more than 6 months (!) notice to find another place.) This was obviously before we knew any better about letting friends “rent”! Anyway, after he moved out he still had some larger items stored under our house, including a kayak, but most of it was just low value personal belongings. We told him we would hold his stuff for another 30 days but after that we would have bulk trash pick it up. 1 month later he hauls his kayak away but the rest he leaves behind. I text him numerous times to pick up his remaining stuff but he doesn’t pick it up and I miss the bulk pick up that month. We told him we have it in our yard and it will be gone if he doesn’t pick it up in 48 hrs. Of course he doesn’t show up again. 1 month later we put it on the curb for bulk pick up and we take video to prove it was taken. About 2 weeks later I see him sitting outside our house and he tells us he is waiting for the police to come because we stole his stuff! Sure enough, police came and knock on our door. My husband shows the police the video and explained everything that happened. The look on the police’s face—he was pissed! I think probably he got charged with making a false report lol. We never saw him again.

Originally posted by @Joni Chin :

No good deed goes unpunished. Almost every Landlord I know has told a similar story (or many of them) about bending over backwards to help out a renter, only to be burned many times over. It's just not worth it. We don't have to be a-holes but acting like a charity is a fast track to major headaches and financial losses.

@Nathan G.

Yup exactly! —this was a co-worker and friend of my husband, who was a little quirky, but seemed nice enough. About 10 years ago he asked us if he could store his furniture for a few days as he was having trouble with his roommates, and was looking for another place to rent. One day my husband goes to our storage space under the house and finds friend sleeping in there! That should have been the first red flag lol. But we made the mistake of offering him the space, which he eventually made into a nice little “room” and started paying us rent and fixing things around the property. But that eventually escalated into “unauthorized” modifications to our property and that resulted in crazy and passive-aggressive behavior when we started to object. 5 years later the drama started—confrontations, restraining order, police visits, but eventually we got him evicted. He even tried to counter sue us for 10k saying that we owed him for all his “work” on our property. After a few years we realized he had some mental illness so we tried to give him a break but that was totally the wrong thing to do. It only extended our misery. The one good thing we got out of it is that we have a cozy little “man cave” “she shed” (?) now.

Now all we need to do is dig another 2-3 feet down, and add some drywall, new floors and put some plumbing in and turn it into another rental unit. :)

Promotion
NestEgg
Smarter rental management
Outperform your peers by 71%
NestEgg landlords save $6,960/yr in fees & 20 hrs/mo*. Self-manage for free or go hands-off for $29.
Start now, get $500

@Nathan G.

For reasons beyond my control, I was evicted from a home. It was a foreclosure and the sheriff came out to help me understand the law. After my eviction, all items on the property were the property of the bank.

I was able to remove all I needed, but the sheriff made it very clear that when the bank workers told me to leave, I had to leave or risk going to jail for criminal trespassing.

During the eviction proceedings the judge will set guides in the order. You may be allowed to place everything on the roadside.

Depending on the condition of the contents, I would opt for packing up pictures and other potential valuable items and storing them.

I would also look to store the better furniture to sell or re-purpose if not claimed.

@Nathan G.

I’m in a store for 30 days post eviction state. Nothing but a mess was left behind, but I didn’t touch anything for that month and left an unanswered voicemail with the tenant saying you have until x date to pick it up.

I think even if we sell the possessions, we need to send the money to the former tenant. We curb a bunch and put the pile on local facebook groups. Nothing too exciting.

@Nathan G.

Here In Pa, tenants have 10 days to make arrangements for me to hold their stuff a maximum of 30 days.

I have and will continue to call my Cleanout guy when legally within my rights.

@Nathan G.

In Virginia, the law is that you legally have to put everything of the tenants on the curb/street in front of the house.  

It sounds harsh, but that's what it is-- the landlord is suppose to put everything out to the street/curb for I believe 10 day, so that way if the tenant left anything they can pick it up without entering the house.   

In Maryland and DC, we pay a crew to empty the house out and put everything on the curb/sidewalk while the Sheriffs/US Marshalls supervise. Tenant can take what they want from the pile, rest goes to garage.

@Matt M.

Yep. 28 days technically. After that Minnesota landlords can sell the possessions, but must notify the former tenant 14 days prior to the sale and return anything that goes above covering landlord damages must be returned to the former tenant if they ask.

Minnesota statute below for some fun reading.,

504B.271 TENANT'S PERSONAL PROPERTY REMAINING IN PREMISES.

§Subdivision 1.Abandoned property. (a) If a tenant abandons rented premises, the landlord may take possession of the tenant's personal property remaining on the premises, and shall store and care for the property. The landlord has a claim against the tenant for reasonable costs and expenses incurred in removing the tenant's property and in storing and caring for the property.

(b) The landlord may sell or otherwise dispose of the property 28 days after the landlord receives actual notice of the abandonment, or 28 days after it reasonably appears to the landlord that the tenant has abandoned the premises, whichever occurs last.

(c) The landlord may apply a reasonable amount of the proceeds of a sale to the removal, care, and storage costs and expenses or to any claims authorized pursuant to section 504B.178, subdivision 3, paragraphs (a) and (b). Any remaining proceeds of any sale shall be paid to the tenant upon written demand.

(d) Prior to a sale, the landlord shall make reasonable efforts to notify the tenant of the sale at least 14 days prior to the sale, by personal service in writing or sending written notification of the sale by first class and certified mail to the tenant's last known address or usual place of abode, if known by the landlord, and by posting notice of the sale in a conspicuous place on the premises at least two weeks prior to the sale. If notification by mail is used, the 14-day period shall be deemed to start on the day the notices are deposited in the United States mail.

Subd. 2.Landlord's punitive damages. If a landlord, an agent, or other person acting under the landlord's direction or control, in possession of a tenant's personal property, fails to allow the tenant to retake possession of the property within 24 hours after written demand by the tenant or the tenant's duly authorized representative or within 48 hours, exclusive of weekends and holidays, after written demand by the tenant or a duly authorized representative when the landlord, the landlord's agent or person acting under the landlord's direction or control has removed and stored the personal property in accordance with subdivision 1 in a location other than the premises, the tenant shall recover from the landlord punitive damages in an amount not to exceed twice the actual damages or $1,000, whichever is greater, in addition to actual damages and reasonable attorney's fees.

In determining the amount of punitive damages the court shall consider (1) the nature and value of the property; (2) the effect the deprivation of the property has had on the tenant; (3) if the landlord, an agent, or other person acting under the landlord's direction or control unlawfully took possession of the tenant's property; and (4) if the landlord, an agent, or other person under the landlord's direction or control acted in bad faith in failing to allow the tenant to retake possession of the property.

The provisions of this subdivision do not apply to personal property which has been sold or otherwise disposed of by the landlord in accordance with subdivision 1, or to landlords who are housing authorities, created, or authorized to be created by sections 469.001 to 469.047, and their agents and employees, in possession of a tenant's personal property, except that housing authorities must allow the tenant to retake possession of the property in accordance with this subdivision.

Subd. 3.Storage. If the landlord, an agent, or other person acting under the landlord's direction or control has unlawfully taken possession of a tenant's personal property the landlord shall be responsible for paying the cost and expenses relating to the removal, storage, or care of the property.

Subd. 4.Remedies additional. The remedies provided in this section are in addition to and shall not limit other rights or remedies available to landlords and tenants. Any provision, whether oral or written, of any lease or other agreement, whereby any provision of this section is waived by a tenant, is contrary to public policy and void. The provisions of this section also apply to occupants and owners of residential real property which is the subject of a mortgage foreclosure or contract for deed cancellation and as to which the period for redemption or reinstatement of the contract has expired.