Property Left on Premises by Tenant
When is the tenant considered to have abandoned the dwelling unit?
The tenant is considered to have abandoned the dwelling unit if the tenant is absent from the dwelling, without notice to the owner, for over seven continuous days, if such absence occurs after rent for the unit is delinquent. §47-8-3(A). If the tenant abandons the dwelling unit, the landlord is entitled to take immediate possession of the dwelling unit. §47-8-34(C).
If the tenant abandons the rental unit, what should the landlord do with the property the tenant has left on the premises?
When the tenant abandons the dwelling unit, the landlord does not acquire a lien on the tenant’s personal property. §§47-8-36.1(A) and 48-3-5.
Before disposing of the tenant’s personal property, the landlord must:
- store all of the tenant’s personal property left on the premises for not less than thirty days;
- serve the resident with written notice stating the landlord’s intent to dispose of the personal property on a date not less than thirty days from the date of the notice. The notice shall also contain a telephone number and address where the resident can reasonably contact the owner prior to the disposition date in the notice;
- personally deliver the notice of intent to dispose of personal property to the resident or send it by first class mail, postage prepaid, to the resident’s last known address. If the notice is returned as undeliverable, or if the resident's last known address is the vacated dwelling unit, the landlord must serve at least one notice to such other address as the tenant provided, including the address of the resident's place of employment, or of a family member or emergency contact for which the owner has a record; and
- provide reasonable access and adequate opportunities for the tenant to retrieve all of the property stored prior to any disposition.
The owner may dispose of the stored property only if the resident does not claim or attempt to retrieve the stored personal property before the date specified in the notice of disposition of the property. §47-8-34.1(A)(6).
The landlord may charge the resident reasonable storage fees for any time that the owner provided storage for the resident's personal property and the prevailing rate of moving fees. The landlord may require payment of storage and moving costs prior to the release of the property. §47-8-34.1(G).
If the rental agreement terminates by the resident’s voluntary surrender of the premises, what may the owner do with any of tenant’s property remaining on the premises?
When the rental agreement terminates by the resident's voluntary surrender of the premises, the owner must store any personal property on the premises for a minimum of fourteen days from the date of surrender of the premises. The owner must provide reasonable access to the resident to regain possession of the personal property stored. If after fourteen days from surrender of the premises, the resident has not retrieved all the stored personal property, the owner may dispose of the stored personal property. §47-8-34.1(B).
How may the landlord dispose of the tenant’s unclaimed property when the tenant has abandoned or voluntarily surrendered the premises?
If the property has a market value of less than one hundred dollars ($100), the landlord has the right to dispose of the property in any manner. §47-8-34.1(D).
If the property has a market value of more than one hundred dollars ($100), the owner may:
- Sell the personal property, and the proceeds of the sale, if in excess of money due and owing to the owner, shall be mailed to the resident at his last known address along with an itemized statement of the amounts received and amounts allocated to other costs, within fifteen days of the sale; or
- Keep the property for his own use or the use of others, in which case the owner shall credit the account of the resident for the fair market value of the property against any money due and owing to the owner. In this case, any value in excess of money due and owing shall be mailed to the resident at his last known address along with an itemized statement of the value allocated to the property and the amount allocated to costs within fifteen days of the retention of the property.
§47-8-34.1(D) & (E).
If the last known address is the dwelling unit, the landlord must also mail at least one copy of the accounting and notice of the sums for distribution, to the other address the tenant provided, if any, such as addresses of place of employment, family members, or emergency contact on record with the owner. §47-8-34.1(F).
If the tenant is evicted through a writ of restitution, what may the landlord do with the tenant’s unclaimed property?
The landlord has no obligation to store any personal property left on the premises after three days following execution of a writ of restitution, unless otherwise agreed by the owner and resident. After three days, the landlord may dispose of the personal property in any manner without further notice or liability. §47-8-34.1(C).