Disposal Former Tenant's Abandoned Property

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What is Abandoned Property?

Abandoned property is property that the true owner voluntarily and intentionally relinquishes, surrenders, or leaves behind under circumstances demonstrating intent to permanently give up ownership of the property.  Examples include personal property left by a tenant in a house or apartment after a tenant moves out and property left along side of the roadway for a long period of time.

What Can a Landlord Do with Property a Tenant Left Behind?

The actions a landlord may take when a tenant has left behind property after moving out depends on the jurisdiction that the property is located and how and why the tenant moved out.  A landlord must follow the specific steps of the state or city statute regarding abandoned property.  Generally, a landlord must take the following steps to dispose of the property that has been abandoned: 

What Happens if a Landlord Illegally Destroys or Sells My Property?

If the rules of the specific statute governing the disposal of abandoned property are not followed by the landlord, the tenant may take legal action against the landlord.  If the landlord disposes of a tenant's property and a court determines that the property had not actually been abandoned, the landlord may be liable for the loss of the property, as well as for lawyer and court costs.

Do I Need a Lawyer for my Abandoned Property Problem?

Landlord tenant law is very complex, varies by city, and is constantly undergoing changes.  An experienced landlord-tenant lawyer can advise you of the your city's laws regarding abandoned property and can protect your rights whether you are an owner trying to dispose of abandoned property or a tenant fighting to recover your property.

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Last Modified: 08-26-2011 02:06 PM PDT

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