What to Do with a Tenant’s Possessions after an Eviction
After an evicted renter has left your property, another issue may surface which is dealing with their possessions in your unit. You may be tempted to throw everything away in order to quickly clean out your unit, but you have to exercise caution since disposing of private belongings can lead to legal consequences you’d want to avoid.
Knowing how to handle the leftover possessions of an evicted renter can help you protect yourself. Check out this article for some great tips on managing the belongings of a tenant who was evicted from your rental space.
Consider the Reason Why the Renter Left
When thinking about how to handle a tenant’s possessions, you need to learn the circumstances surrounding why they moved out. Your responsibilities can depend on the situation.
Each state has different laws governing the duty of a landlord in managing an evicted tenant’s items. You should always conduct research before touching the belongings of a tenant who has left your rental space for any reason.
Period of Retrieval
No matter the state, landlords must assign a timeframe to hold the abandoned possessions of a renter so they have a chance to retrieve their belongings. If you don’t designate a holding period, you might face a lawsuit filed by an evicted tenant. The process can end up being lengthy, which can consume a lot of your time.
You can allocate 7 to 10 days to store renters’ leftover possessions. This is sufficient time for them to claim their items. As a landlord, you’re not required to shoulder the expense of returning the belongings. The renters must bear the cost of retrieving their possessions.
Dealing with Abandoned Possessions
Landlords in Arizona can manage a renter’s abandoned possessions in several ways, depending on why the tenant left the rental property. It is important to understand the difference between possessions abandoned after an expired lease and those left after an eviction, especially for first-time landlords.
Lease Agreement Expired
In this case, the landlord can decide how to handle the items left behind by the tenant. If they find some possessions to be valuable, you can opt to create an opportunity for the renter to pick them up from your rental place and contact them immediately.
If there are associated fees in removing or storing the items, you can charge them to the renter and deduct them from the security deposit.
If the renters got evicted and are legally locked out from the rental unit, you must follow the specific guide set by Arizona law.
For renters that abandoned the property, the landlords have the freedom to decide what to do with the possessions left in the rental property. They can discard them, but landlords can also choose to return the items and reach out to the renter to give notice that their belongings can be retrieved within a period of ten days.
Notifying a Tenant on Property Disposal
In Arizona, the best practice is to send a notice to a renter via certified mail and a request for a return receipt. Forward the notice to the renter’s new address and ensure that it states the rental property location, including the length of time that the possessions are going to be held.
Reasonable Time for Retrieval
Should you receive a written note by the renter asking not to discard the possessions they left, you can allot five days for reclaiming. If there are associated costs in moving or storing the items, then the renter must pay for them.
Storing a Possessions
The abandoned possessions can be kept in several places, such as:
- The rental property the tenant formerly stayed in, so long as it doesn’t interfere with advertising or renting your property
- An empty rental unit or storage space
- Outside the rental place, if a landlord doesn’t have an extra storage area
In Arizona, it’s expected for landlords to practice reasonable care in how they treat a renter’s belongings. That said, you’re not going to be charged for damage liability unless an item was clearly intentionally abused or neglected.
Landlords can protect themselves by being careful when handling a tenant’s possessions. Store them securely while waiting for a renter to claim them back or until the holding period has lapsed, and you can legally dispose of them.
Refunds for Storing Belongings
Landlords can be refunded when they store a tenant’s possessions. However, you might also encounter a scenario where a renter does not show up after the 10-day holding period. Should this happen, you can sell the item and get paid for the charges owed by the renter, specifically in the storage and selling of the item.
However, if the renter sent a notice to return, the landlords can keep the belongings until they get paid for the storage and moving fees.
Exceptions in asking for storage fees can apply to:
- Tools and equipment
- Trade books
- Financial records
- Documents for a tenant’s immigration, employment, public assistance, or medical status
Managing the Sales Proceeds
After selling off abandoned tenant possessions, you’re still liable to return the leftover profit after the deductions of the amount a renter owed. The Arizona law dictates that a landlord should mail back the excess proceeds to the former renter within a period of 12 months.
Protecting Your Future
Adding additional clauses in the lease can save landlords from the stress of holding unto items left behind by a renter.
You can include these conditions:
- Disposal costs for an abandoned possession
- Setting up several meetings
- Declaring the set holding period for storing the items
Landlords must be cautious when discarding an evicted renter’s possessions. Even if the tenant was evicted, they still have a right to claim their possessions. Make sure to review Arizona’s laws to send the proper notices and provide the right time frame for holding onto a renter’s belongings.
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