After a fire - Tenant property

10 Replies

A month ago tomorrow we had a fire at one of our properties in Milwaukee.  Our property manager dropped the ball in a million ways so we fired them and are now trying to get an idea of where we are at with everything.

Before we can do a dry out we need the tenant's personal items removed.  Tenant #1 has a phone no longer in service.  Tenant #2 has not returned our calls.  Tenant #3 I am talking to later today.

We would like their stuff out by Monday, but have no idea what they were told in terms of deadlines or expectations (The old PM would probably be lying anyway if I asked)

Can we just offer to move it to a storage facility for a month and pay for it?  Is there a legal requirement for getting their stuff out?  What have you done in this situation?

@Brie Schmidt This is a very interesting question on a situation that I hope never to experience first hand. I suppose that each state/county could have different rules on this. I am sorry that you are going through this, but am interested in hearing the answers

The leases has a clause for abandoned property, saying we will throw it out after 7 days.  I would assume a fire and condemnation of the house would terminate the lease thus activating this clause, but I don't know for sure

Brie, I have never had this situation, but I would be careful about throwing their stuff out.  Even if you have a clause in the lease that says you can do it, WI tenant/landlord law supersedes this.  I believe you have to store it for 60 days before you can throw it out.  There's something crazy about how you have to make it public that you tried to get the tenant to come and get it.  I'm not kidding.  Another landlord who I met with last month was on his way to small claims court and said that it was his last visit there with proof that he posted the property in the Journal Sentinel (?) for the tenant to come and get it.  I know it's crazy, but some tenants are hoping that you just throw out their stuff (usually worthless junk) just so that a lawyer can now sue you for damages.  Sorry that I can't be more specific.  Good luck!  

I have had this twice.  I posted notice on the door indicating the property was condemned and that all propert must be removed by X date.  It also includes verbiage that any items left 48 hours after the expiration of date X will be considered abandoned.

Send the same via certified mail to each address.Unless your insurer will pay for professional moving and to store the items, you don't want to touch a thing before the deadline.

Once it's abandoned, you've done your part and I would say to move forward.

Please don't quote me...

I wonder if you held the property for a certain amount of time in storage but then charged them that (or a portion of) cost against security deposit?

Hire Paul Davis Restoration and they will take care of all those details. Your agent should have sent out an adjuster who then creates a budget with Paul Davis to get everything back up and running. 

I really wouldn't start throwing stuff out quite yet. Every state will be different and you need some proper legal advice here. Giving tenants deadlines etc is heavily legislated, and often not in the landlords favor. And as someone else says, regardless of what your lease says state law supersedes it. This is not a grey area, but you do need proper legal advice.

We had an abandonment last year, and as much as all the nice stuff was gone, it still meant storing stuff for 30 days at our expense. 

I would call a local attorney that specializes in Lease Law and pay then the $300 that they will likely charge.