If you’ve won an eviction lawsuit in Texas, you may feel like tossing the tenant’s belongings out into the street. But Texas law sets out specific procedures for dealing with a tenant’s property after an eviction. You may be surprised to learn that the town where the rental property is located—not you—bears most of the responsibility for the tenant’s abandoned possessions.
Probably not. You can only move the tenant’s property if the tenant specifically gave you permission to move it. If the tenant did not give you permission, then the only person who can move the property is the law enforcement officer who performed the eviction. The law enforcement officer can move the property outside the rental unit to a nearby location (but not blocking any public sidewalks or streets), or the law enforcement officer can authorize the property to be moved to a storage unit (see Tex. Prop. Code 24.0061).
If the officer moved the property outside near the rental unit, then the officer does not need to contact the tenant to claim the property. The tenant will have a reasonable time to claim the property (Texas law does not define this time period, but because the property is in the public space, the tenant should probably claim the property in less than three days) before the officer can dispose of it (see Tex. Prop. Code 24.0061).
If the officer had the tenant’s items moved to a storage unit, then the owner of the storage unit becomes responsible for the tenant’s belongings. The tenant will need to communicate directly with this person to reclaim the property (see Tex. Prop. Code 24.0062).
The tenant has 30 days to pay all the storage and moving costs and reclaim items from the storage unit. If the tenant does not claim the property in time, then the owner of the storage unit can sell the property (see Tex. Prop. Code 24.0062).
It’s not your responsibility to handle the storage or the sale. If the tenant gets in touch with you, tell the tenant to contact either the officer who performed the eviction or the owner of the storage unit, if you happen to have that information.
Yes. If the officer performing the eviction decides to have the tenant’s belongings moved to a storage unit, then the officer must notify the tenant within 72 hours of the eviction. The officer must either mail the notice to the tenant or give the notice personally to the tenant. The notice must include the following information:
The owner of the storage unit will first use the proceeds of the sale to pay for the moving and storage fees associated with the property (see Tex. Prop. Code 24.0062). Texas law does not state what happens to any leftover money. The tenant may be able to make a claim for it, if the claim is made in a reasonable amount of time after the sale takes place.
A qualified lawyer can help you find and understand any rules that apply to your situation. It’s particularly wise to consult a lawyer if you think the abandoned property may be very valuable or if you have any reason to believe the tenant may cause problems later. A good lawyer can help protect you from claims that you have stolen or destroyed a tenant’s property.