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NYS law regarding property abandonment

Painted Post, NY |

Hello. My boyfriend of 10 years moved out of our rented home December 1st of this year and moved out of town and established a new address at that time. Under a verbal agreement, he offered to pay for the rent and the utilities here until March of this year. Since his leaving, he has paid only December rent .I have been paying rent & bills since then. His property is still here. He has 2 cars and 3 motorcycles that I told him he could pick up with notice, however he wants his TV and our cat. He has acknowledged in written proof that he owes me 2K for the back rent and bills , but I still haven't seen anything. There is technically no "lease" on this home, as it was never renewed 5 years ago. How long of time when property is considered abandoned? And is he allowed to take our animal and TV

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

Take him to small claims court for what he owes to you. He left and he cannot establish ownership of either the TV or cat. With regard to the cars and motorcycles who are they registered to and are there any costs involved in keeping them if so charge him, if not send him a registered or certified letter demanding he remove them.

The advice I have given does not bind the parties in any manner and is merely given as a courtesy.


There is no statute that covers the abandonment issue. If he alone owns the TC he is entitled to it. If you both own the cat you both have equal claim to it.

The above answer, and any follow up comments or emails is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


Dear Painted Post Tenant:

You now see how much simpler this would be had you written down the terms of the agreement and promise to pay rent and to remove property, since without a written agreement, it is difficult to prove an oral contract and "meeting of the minds" of the parties.

New York statutory law leaves you in the lurch relating to the left behind personal property. At the start you become the custodian of the property and the guardian of its safety until a "reasonable" time passes from presenting provable notice to the owner of a demand to move the property within a set deadline. NY makes nearly every dispute like yours one where a judge may become involved, as you will not know that a "reasonable" time ran out and you and were then safe to dispose of the property, unless you win in a lawsuit for damages brought by you ex.

If the TV is yours, he is not entitled to take it away. Likewise with your cat.

And although he owes you money based on your oral agreement, proving the contract even with his written admission may be hard to do without a lawyer.

Many attorneys would suggest that a "reasonable" time to remove the left behind property is sixty days after providing written notice by mail, both certified and regular first class mail with a certificate of mailing. But two cars and 2 motorcycles might not be subject to such general opinion of "reasonableness" since the NYS DMV and the Vehicle and Traffic Law, may also have bearing on the movement of vehicles titled and registered to one person but stored and left on the property of another person.

Your unique issues suggest that you may move these problems along to a quicker solution if you engage an attorney to assist you.

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.