How long do you have to hold on to someones property once they have moved out/ abandoned there things?

Asked over 1 year ago - Martinsburg, WV

My son & his wife were living with us & we told them that we would not charge any rent but we all agreed that they would pay the monthly electric bill. We found out in February when we received a $1000.00 bill that they had not paid the electric bill since October. We gave them a 30 day notice on February 13,2013 to vacate but they ended up leaving on Feb 5,2013 and we have not heard anything since, I have tried to send a register letter and had my sister text them and asked were do they want there things sent to,but they will not answer. What do we need to do, so we are not held legally responsible for there belongings? We would like there things out of here, so we can move on with our lives.

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Thomas J Callahan

    Contributor Level 18

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    Lawyer agrees

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    Answered . HERE IS WV CODE ยง37-6-6. Desertion of leased property; entry; recovery of rent, disposition of abandoned personal property; notice.
    (a) If any tenant from whom rent is in arrears and unpaid abandons the leased property, the landlord or his or her agent shall post a notice in writing in a conspicuous part of the property, requiring the tenant to pay the rent within one month. If the rent is not paid within that time, the landlord shall be entitled to possession of the property, and may enter thereon, and the right of the tenant to the leased property shall end. The landlord may recover the rent owed up to the time when he or she became entitled to possession.

    (b) If any tenant of a housing development operated by a housing authority abandons the leased property when rent is not a condition of the lease agreement, the housing authority shall post a notice in writing in a conspicuous part of the property, requiring the tenant to respond in writing within one month stating that he or she has not abandoned the leased property. If the tenant does not respond in writing within one month, stating that he or she has not abandoned the leased property, the housing authority shall be entitled to possession of the property, and may enter thereon, and the right of the tenant to the leased property shall end.
    (c) Upon regaining possession of the property, the landlord or his or her agent or housing authority may take, dispose of or otherwise remove the tenant's personal property without incurring any liability to the tenant or any other person. To dispose of the tenant's property under this section, the landlord or housing authority shall give a written notice to the tenant that shall be:

    (1) Posted in a conspicuous place on the property; and

    (2) Sent by first-class mail with a certificate of mailing, which provides a receipt of the date of mailing, in an envelope endorsed "Please Forward", addressed and mailed to the tenant at:

    (A) The leased property;

    (B) Any post office box held by the tenant and known to the landlord or housing authority; and

    (C) The most recent forwarding address if provided by the tenant or known to the landlord or housing authority.

    (d) The written notice required under subsection (c) of this section shall state that:

    (1) The leased property is considered abandoned;
    (2) Any personal property left by the tenant must be removed from the property or from the place of safekeeping, if the landlord or housing authority has stored the property, by a date specified in the written notice that is:

    (A) Not less than thirty days after the date the written notice was mailed; or

    (B) Not less than sixty days after the date the written notice was mailed if the tenant has notified the landlord or housing authority that he or she is on active duty in the armed forces of the United States.

    (3) If the personal property is not removed within the time provided for in this section, then the tenant forfeits his or her ownership rights to the personal property, and the personal property becomes the property of the landlord or housing authority.

    (e) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (c) of this section, if the abandoned personal property is worth more than three hundred dollars and was not removed from the property or from the place of safekeeping within the time period stated in the notice required in subsection (d) of this section, the landlord shall store the personal property for up to thirty additional days if the tenant or any person holding a security interest in the abandoned personal property informs the landlord of their intent to remove the property: Provided, That the tenant or person holding a security interest in the abandoned personal property pays the landlord the reasonable costs of storage and removal.

    To questioners from West Virginia & New York: Although I am licensed to practice in your state, I practice on a... more

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