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Can an evicted tenant only claim some of their possessions?

Buffalo, NY |

I am currently storing an ex-tenants possessions that where left behind after an eviction. The tenant has been given until the end of May to reclaim his items less they be considered abandoned and disposed of. My question is: must I allow him to claim only some of the items or can I tell him he either takes everything or nothing?

Thank you, in advance, for your professional opinions.

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Attorney answers 5

Posted

Anything left behind is deemed abandoned and becomes your property to dispose of as you see fit.

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Posted

If he only wants some portion of his belongings, go along with it and discard the rest later. To deny him some and require he take "all or nothing "is only looking for trouble. Don't look for trouble.

My answer is for general purposes only and is not not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship, nor is it advice upon which you should act or rely. But, if you really want me to tell you something upon which you can actually rely: don't eat yellow snow.

Asker

Posted

Good point Mr. Weinman, he's already caused enough trouble I don't want to invite anymore! I'm just doing my best to cover my behind. :)

Posted

The law is murky on this particular issue. The general practice is to permit the evicted tenant a single opportunity to come remove the belongings. If you can obtain the tenant's new address, it is a good practice to send a letter by certified and first class mail with proof of mailing stating that you will provide a single opportunity for the tenant to retrieve her belongings from storage on or before May 31 and any belongings not removed by that day will be considered abandoned and discarded.

Peter J Weinman

Peter J Weinman

Posted

The lesson to be learned here is to retain counsel even for "simple" evictions. A properly worded stipulation would most likely have included language to address this all-too-common occurrence.

Bruno Patrick Bianchi

Bruno Patrick Bianchi

Posted

Yes.

Asker

Posted

Oh, we've certainly learned that the words "simple" and "eviction" do NOT belong in the same sentence! Amazingly this is the first time in over 40 yrs of renting out this apartment that we've ever had to evict anyone and the rentals have always been done on a handshake & your word......unfortunately times have changed and that practice will not continue with the new tenants. Luckily, I did write up a notice about the items, had the Marshall who performed the eviction look it over & I had it had delivered to the ex-tenant at his workplace (I don't know where he's staying now). I wish I could have afforded an attorney to help navigate this process, but due to the lost income from the unpaid rent....it was just not possible. This site and all the wonderfully helpful lawyers have been a god send. Thank you.

Asker

Posted

*hand delivered

Posted

Dear Landlord:

Allow the tenant to recover the left behind personal property. If possible, invoice the items and prepare a receipt. Provide for the tenant to indicate the property he removed and the property he is abandoning. Make a duplicate and make sure the tenant signs on both forms at a place where the receipt is dated and the tenant agrees that the items marked as taken, he took, the items noted as abandoned he is allowing you to discard without any recourse and without liability.

Good luck.

The answer provided to you is in the nature of general information. The general proposition being that you should try to avoid a bad outcome if you can.

Posted

My colleagues all make excellent points. Going forward, you may want to consider a few ideas to avoid this issue in the future. If you do not already do so, give some thought to using a written lease, and consider some kind of move-out or abandoned property clause.

This communication is intended only to provide general information. No attorney-client relationship is created.

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