Dealing With a Tenant's Abandoned Property
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Make intelligent decisions and manage risks with handling personal property found in or at a rental that is suspected to be abandoned.
Landlords and property managers regularly are faced with handling personal property found in their rentals, suspected to be the tenant's abandoned property. It is critical to try and determine if the property is abandoned or not, who may have rights to it, and then deal with the situation in a manner to minimize the risk of liability.
If the personal property is dealt with improperly, the landlord or property manager risks substantial liability to the tenant. Liability can also extend to co-tenants, the tenant's family, secured interest holders, a bankruptcy trustee, and/or governmental entities (including criminal prosecution).
This topic will provide a foundation for landlords, property managers and attorneys to make intelligent decisions and manage risks with handling personal property found in or at a rental that is suspected to be abandoned.
AuthorsBrandon R. Ceglian, Law Offices of Brandon R. Ceglian, P.C.
When Is a Tenant's Property Abandoned?
• Statutory Definitions/Indicia of Abandonment (Keys, Utilities, Unpaid Rent, Bedsheets, Medicine, Valuables, Furniture, Vehicle)
• Lease Definitions/Fixtures/Residential vs. Commercial Rentals
• Ownership Identification (Co-Tenant, Purported Spouse, Liens, Probate, BK Trustee)
Liability for Handling Abandoned Property
• Finders Keepers/Self-Help
• Bailments and Standards of Care and Charging for Storage
• Conversion and Civil Theft
• Evictions as Means of Liability Protection
• Landlord's Lien and the Relic "Distress" and "Distraint" Statutes
• Notice and Sale of Unclaimed or Abandoned Property
• State Law Survey on Landlord's Treatment of Abandoned Property
• Motor Vehicles, Trailers and Equipment
• Drug Labs/Marijuana Cultivation/Hazardous Materials/Prescriptions
• Military Tenants
• Donating Possessions/Charitable Gift
• Uniform Unclaimed Property Act and Other Unclaimed Property Statutes
• Practical Considerations - Document, Document, Document
• Vehicle Charging Station Statutes in Residential Rentals
• Finding the Tenant and Providing Notice (Emergency Contacts, Forwarding Address, County and Municipal Jail, Background Checks, Posting and Mailing, Missing Person's Report, Hospitals)