Handling Personal Property Left Behind After Tenant Vacates

former homeownerMany landlords find themselves in the unenviable position of having to deal with personal property of a former tenant left behind after the tenant vacates, either at the expiration of the lease or through and eviction action and may be subject to misinformation as to how to properly handle the tenant’s property.

In my experience, I have seen such misinformation being spread firsthand, from landlords being informed that they can throw away, keep, or simply sell any property left after a tenant vacates. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case.

If you have questions about legally handling the personal property left behind by a previous or evicted tenant, contact Naples attorney Cameron Woodward at Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A. today. Call (239) 649-6555 or see www.wpl-legal.com for more information.

Written Notice Required

Chapter 715 Florida Statutes details how a tenant’s personal property is to be handled after vacating the property.

Specifically, section 715.104 Fla. Stat. “Notification of former tenant of personal property remaining on premises after tenancy has terminated” requires the landlord to provide written notice of personal property remaining on the leased premises to the tenant and to any other person the landlord reasonably believes to be the owner of the property. The notice shall describe the property in a manner reasonably adequate to permit the owner of the property to identify it. The notice shall advise the person to be notified that reasonable costs of storage may be charged before the property is returned, and the notice shall state where the property may be claimed and the date before which the claim must be made. The date specified in the notice shall be a date not fewer than 10 days after the notice is personally delivered or, if mailed, not fewer than 15 days after the notice is deposited in the mail. Further, the notice shall be personally delivered or sent by first-class mail, postage prepaid, to the person to be notified at her or his last known address and, if there is reason to believe that the notice sent to that address will not be received by that person, also delivered or sent to such other address, if any, known to the landlord where such person may reasonably be expected to receive the notice.

Additionally, section 715.105 Fla. Stat. lays out the form that the notice is required to take and requires that the notice include one of the following statements:

  1. “If you fail to reclaim the property, it will be sold at a public sale after notice of the sale has been given by publication. You have the right to bid on the property at this sale. After the property is sold and the costs of storage, advertising, and sale are deducted, the remaining money will be paid over to the county. You may claim the remaining money at any time within 1 year after the county receives the money.”
  2. “Because this property is believed to be worth less than $500, it may be kept, sold, or destroyed without further notice if you fail to reclaim it within the time indicated above.”

Failure to Give Written Notice

Should a landlord choose another method of dealing with a former tenant’s property, they may open themselves up to unintended liability for damage or destruction of the tenant’s personal property. Contact the attorneys at Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A. today for assistance with the Florida legal process surrounding, rentals, real estate, landlord-tenant laws, and leasing.

About the Author

Cameron G. Woodward, Esq.

Cameron G. Woodward, Esq.

Cameron Grant Woodward, Esq. is a Naples native, graduating from Naples High School before attending Stetson University in Deland, Florida, and then Ave Maria School of Law. Cameron proudly joins his father, Mark J. Woodward, Esq., and Uncle, Craig R. Woodward, Esq. at Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A. His law practice focuses on community association, code enforcement, land use and zoning, landlord-tenant law, and local government law. He is a graduate of Leadership Marco by the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce.

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