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Tenants' Belongings After Eviction: What Are Your Responsibilities?


It goes without saying that when tenants leave, they should take everything with them. In some cases, they may leave things behind, especially if the tenant moves in a hurry to avoid eviction or when they receive an eviction notice. If this happens, the landlord is allowed to clear out the property and begin renting it again. However, they can’t get rid of the belongings right away, as tenants have rights that give them some time to pick up the belongings before they appear abandoned.

Guide to Landlord Responsibilities for Tenant Possessions Left Behind

Avoid Illegally Removing Belongings After a tenant’s eviction, the landlord cannot remove the belongings unless the tenant moves out on their own or finalizes the process. If the tenant is not moving out willingly and gets an eviction, the courts will issue a writ of possession after completing the eviction.

After this, the tenant has five days to leave the property. And failure to comply means that the belongings can be removed and stored. A landlord should not remove the tenant’s belongings before the tenant moves out voluntarily or gets an eviction.

If this happens, the landlord may be liable for any damage to the property. Also, the landlord could receive a fine of up to $100 per day for removing the belongings illegally.

How Long for the Tenant to Retrieve the Belongings The tenant does have some time to retrieve their belongings when they are no longer living at the property. But the exact amount of time does depend on whether the tenant leaves voluntarily or gets an eviction.

If the tenant moves out of the property freely, the landlord can store the items but must give the tenant at least 18 days to reclaim the belongings. After this point, they can be disposed of or sell it. If it was an eviction, the landlord must give the tenant at least 15 days to reclaim the property. Otherwise, this follows a similar process for tenants who leave and those who get an eviction.

Responsibilities of the Landlord The landlord does have specific responsibilities; otherwise, the removal of the belongings may be considered illegal. Once the tenant has moved out or finalizes the eviction, the landlord can clear out the property to get it ready to rent again.

Any possessions left behind by the tenant will need to be stored. It is a good idea for the landlord to keep track of the moving and storage costs, as they can request funds to cover these expenses from the landlord. The landlord will need to create an inventory of everything being removed from the property and stored. They must send the tenant a letter describing the belongings, where they can retrieve them, the storage costs to retrieve the belongings, and other pertinent information.

They must also include a deadline for the retrieval. Usually, at least 15 or 18 days out, depending on whether the tenant left voluntarily or through an eviction.

If the tenant does not contact the landlord about obtaining their belongings, the landlord can dispose of them after the deadline. If the tenant does respond to the letter, the landlord has five days to notify them of the storage fees they will pay to claim their belongings. The tenant then has three days to pay these fees and retrieve the belongings. Failure to do so, the landlord can dispose of the items.

Responsibilities of the Tenant The tenant must let the landlord know if they plan on retrieving the belongings. They should do this in writing so that there is no confusion about whether the tenant has responded to the landlord’s letter. The landlord does have the option of having the tenant pay any moving or storage fees needed for the landlord to keep the belongings safe. These charges should be reasonable and cannot go above the current fair market rates.

Once the tenant has received notice of the fees, they will need to pay the fees and collect their belongings within a reasonable amount of time.

Options for Abandoned Property It’s possible that the tenant will not respond to the notification from the landlord about the belongings. After the required waiting period or the deadline for pickup in the notice, whichever is later, the landlord can then dispose of the abandoned property.

If the estimated value of the property is less than $700, the landlord may dispose of or sell the items and keep the proceeds for them. If the value is more than $700, the landlord must sell the items at a public auction.

The landlord can get reimbursement for the storage and removal fees from the county. The tenant has one year to claim the proceeds of the auction.

Dealing with an eviction is stressful, and the items left behind can get in the way of renting the property to a new tenant. No matter if the tenant is evicted or moves out voluntarily, there should be proper handling of the belongings to make sure there are no issues or suits for illegally disposing of the belongings.