My tenant recently moved out, owing me a few months’ rent. He left behind a lot of his belongings, including a TV, bicycle, and sofa. Can I sell these abandoned items to cover the money the tenant owes me?
When a tenant who has moved out—whether voluntarily or by eviction—owes back rent (or money for damages), many landlords find it appealing to sell whatever property of value is left behind, without first trying to track down the tenant. This is a risky approach in many states—even if you have a court judgment for money damages (as a result of an eviction lawsuit):
You’ll need to read your own state statute on how you may dispose of a tenant’s abandoned belongings, including whether and how you must notify tenants before you may dispose of or sell it, any statutory deadline for tenants to reclaim property, and how you may use the proceeds of the sale of property. And for advice on doing legal research and understanding state law on abandoned property, see Nolo’s Laws and Legal Research section.