What Happens To The Property Left Behind?

When personal property is left behind in the premises which were previously leased by the tenant, the landlord must give notice to the tenant and to any other person the landlord reasonably believes to be the owner of the property. The landlord must describe the property in a manner to permit the owner of the property to identify it. If the property is in a locked or otherwise secured container which deters access, the landlord may describe the container and not the contents. The notice must state that reasonable costs of storage may be charged before the property is returned, where the property may be claimed, and the date on or before which such property must be claimed. The date must be not less than seven days after the notice is personally delivered, or if mailed, not less than 14 days after the notice is deposited in the mail. The notice must be given within six months of the expiration of the lease of the property or the date of discovery of the abandonment, whichever is later.

The landlord must release the personal property to the tenant or the person believed by the landlord to be the owner IF the landlord is paid reasonable costs of storage and advertising and the person takes possession of the property on or before the date specified in the notice.

If the property is not claimed and is worth less than $250, the landlord may retain the property for his or her own use or dispose of it as he or she sees fit. If the property is worth more than $250, it must be sold at public sale by competitive bidding. The landlord can bid on the property at the public sale. The costs of storage, advertising, and the sale are paid from the proceeds of the sale. The former tenant or property owner has 30 days after the sale to claim the remaining proceeds. If the tenant or owner does not claim the proceeds within the 30­day period, the proceeds are sent to the State Treasurer for disposition pursuant to the Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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