What Should You Do If Tenants Do Not Reclaim Their Property?

A tenant who really care about their belongings usually won’t leave anything behind. Even tenants who have been evicted by the sheriff or marshal usually manage to move themselves and their belongings out a day or two before the scheduled eviction date. So, when a tenant leaves personal property, it’s usually trash. However, if, after a tenant has left, you discover that there are other possessions besides obvious garbage, it could be good practice to follow the below steps:

  • Step 1: Make a list of abandoned possessions and write down everything you find. An objective witness (tenant or neighbor) is valuable here if you want to protect yourself from any allegation that you have not done this honestly. Don’t open locked suitcases or boxes; just simply make a list of the unopened containers. You may, however, open other containers to check for items of value, because the way you handle the possessions may depend on their total value. Taking photos and videos are good ways to keep a record and be prepared for the worst case scenario;

  • Step 2: Decide the value of all the property;

  • Step 3: Regardless of the items’ value, send the tenant a notice asking them to reclaim their abandoned property. In your notice, you should include 1) the description of abandoned property, 2) the estimated value, 3) where the property will be kept, 4) deadline for retrieval and 5) what will happen if the property is not reclaimed after that period. There is generally no time limit for doing this, but you may not be allowed to legally dispose of the property until you begin the process with this notice;

  • Step 4: If your tenant does not show up within the retrieval period, you may be able to go ahead with actually selling or disposing of property.

Tellus TIP:

Check your State laws before selling or disposing of property. In some areas, the abandoned property must be turned in to the State. In others, you are allowed to dispose of it the moment the notice period ends.