Trash, or Treasure??

When tenants move out — planned or not — they often leave a few items behind.  Here’s an example:

003The tenant took all of their clothing and personal items from this bedroom, but left the mattress and dirty linens and some boxes and other trash.  They’re obviously not coming back for this stuff!  But how about the contents of this next photo, taken from the same house?


The shelving units in both rooms were not in good shape, but I suppose they could be used in another rental.  The stuff on the sheves — electronics, knick-knacks, etc. — was either broken or just plain trash.  So as a landlord, what do you do?  Can you throw it out?  Or will your tenant come back on you several months later, claiming you threw away some precious family heirlooms?

Here’s what I do … on my application, I always get the names and addresses of two contacts — family and/or friends — as emergency contacts.  In these cases, if I cannot reach my tenant and I don’t have a forwarding address, I call these people and try to find my tenant through them.  I let them know the situation, and tell them I need to clear out the rental for my next tenant.  Sometimes they come and clear out the house, sometimes the tenant does, and sometimes the emergency contact says the tenant doesn’t want the rest of the contents.  I get this in writing, take pictures of the junk left behind, and put it out for the trash man.  Simple.

When you’ve made all efforts to find your tenant and contacted the appropriate people, to no avail, you can — by law — label the stuff they left behind as “abandoned property.”  The law is purposely vague about this, and I’ve never, in 17 years, had an issue with throwing people’s junk away.

What’s that saying?  “One man’s trash, another man’s treasure?”  No, it’s “One man’s trash, another man’s trash!”  So don’t keep it, throw it out!  And know that you’ll find a better tenant next time!

Onward and upward!  🙂