When tenants move out of a rental unit, they are required to also move their personal property. Personal property is everything which a person can own except for land. Personal property is also referred to as personal possessions or personal belongings. State laws, which vary by state, have different procedures which a landlord may follow to remove and dispose of personal property left in a rental unit after a tenant has vacated. A landlord who has properly followed one of the procedures cannot be held liable for any damages related to the property.
The procedures typically apply to the following situations:
- The tenant has requested that the property be returned.
- It appears that the property has been abandoned.
- It appears that the property has been lost. (The owner is unknown.)
Which procedure a landlord should follow in any particular case depends upon the situation.
When a tenant has left personal property in a rental unit, the landlord should safely store the property. A landlord may choose to leave the property in the rental unit. But if the unit may be rented soon, the landlord should store the property elsewhere. Wherever the landlord chooses to store the property, it must be kept in a safe place, where the property will not be damaged or stolen. In storing the property, the landlord must use reasonable care to keep it safe. If property is lost or damaged, and if the landlord did not act in a deliberate or negligent manner in storing and caring for the property, the landlord will not be liable for any storage related loss.