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Owner occupied home trying to evict a roommate. Can I relocate his belongings?

Portsmouth, VA |

I have a roommate living with me, we have no formal lease. I have sent via certified mail the pay or quit and eviction notice. I am trying to follow the letter of the law, however there does not seem to be much in regards to his property. He has disappeared, left no forwarding address, is not responding to texts, calls, or facebook. I want to clean out his mess of a room and put his belongings into the garage so I can clean the carpets, paint, ect. Am I legally allowed to touch his things or do I have to wait for the sheriff to come oversee the move?

Attorney Answers 1


(I don't concentrate in landlord/tenant law, but most of this is a "reasonableness" type of thing and you likely don't fall under the landlord tenant act.) You don't indicate how long the roommate has been gone, if you know he is permanently gone, or if he received the notice. Some of the answers to these may make a difference. The "lease" sounds like a verbal periodic lease. I will assume a month to month type of lease. Send notice for him to remove his property by a certain date to his last known address and copy it to Facebook as well as texting and voicemail under the assumption that he has vacated the residence and abandoned his property. The Pay or Quit is more to get the person out, not the property - which can be moved.

If he has not paid and has been gone for an additional full month beyond the pay or quit notice, you will likely not have issue with removing his property to another part of the house. However, you should take pictures as you go and note anything that is damaged before you move it. That will be for your own protection if he ever comes back to get it and tries to claim damages. Usually, a walk through video of the entire room is the best first evidence, with individual pictures of anything already damaged. Also take note of any damages he may have done to the room at the same time.

Please note that this response is based upon the limited information available in the question. In addition, it is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship and is offered only as general information and not as legal advice.

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Thanks for the response. I own the home and he was a roommate paying rent month to month with no lease. He has made one communication with me, a text saying "I will get my stuff when I can". I tried to get a date or offer to help move his stuff but he has not responded. I am going to move his belonging into the garage after Feb 1st. I am going to take plenty of video/pictures and make sure things are boxed/bagged so that weather/insects should not be an issue. My followup questions are; How long do I have to keep his stuff in storage before I can throw it away? and Do I have a legal foot to stand on, taking him to Civil court for rent for January and any months forward that his stuff is still here? Thank you very much for your time.

Victoria Lee Allen

Victoria Lee Allen


The items have essentially been abandoned. As noted above, you need to give him a date certain from which to remove the property. Here is a link to the applicable statute. He does not get to choose when that may be. As for rents, I don't know what dates he was there, when he was behind in payments, and when the pay or quit notice was delivered. He will be responsible for any past due rents and any rents if he refused to leave after the pay or quit. It will be up to you to determine whether or not it is worth pursuing in court. It is unlikely he will pay willingly.

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