What do I do with property left behind by the tenant?

If you have ever had a tenant abandoned the premises leaving a lot of property behind, you know how stressful it is to deal with a unit that is still full of someone else’s stuff. Fortunately, the problem is common enough that the Utah Legislature has outlined the process for  landlord to deal with abandoned property clearly enough that it easy to follow and stay within the boundaries of the law.

The first thing you need to do is post a Notice of Intent to Dispose of Abandoned Property. Additionally, you must mail a copy of the Notice via US First Class Mail, not certified, to the former tenant’s last known address. In almost every case, the last known address is the same as the leased property address. This notice will give the tenant fifteen days to make arrangements to recover the abandoned property. If you need a copy of this form or any Utah eviction form, you can download them for free by clicking the link to our free Utah eviction forms.

You are not required to store this property in the unit. In fact, you are allowed to hire a moving and storage company to come in, take inventory, box everything up and store it at a different location. When the tenant reaches out to you within the fifteen-day period you can require that he or she first pay all moving and storage fees before releasing the property to the tenant.

The landlord is not required to store dangerous chemicals or live animals. Additionally, if only garbage is left behind, this can be tossed out without waiting the fifteen days. The law used to require the landlord to give the tenant thirty days to recover his or her property. When the requirement was reduced to fifteen days, the law changed to require a landlord to give an extension of fifteen days if the tenant requests. That means, you might end up having to store the property for thirty days.

If the tenant does not comply with the notice, the owner may sell, at public auction, the property left behind to the extent necessary to be reimbursed for all amounts owed under the rental agreement. However, any unsold property must be returned to the tenant at the tenant’s request. Additionally, once enough has been recovered to cover all amounts due under contract, the remaining property must be released to the tenant.

Rarely is a public sale required. Most of the time, tenants do not leave behind property that is valuable enough to be worth selling at public auction. In these cases, the landlord is allowed to dispose of the property in a commercially reasonable manner. If the property has no real fair market value, then that usually means donating the property or throwing it away.

If you would like further clarification on any issues addressed herein, do not hesitate to give one of our Utah Eviction Lawyers a call.

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