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JG2

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Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #1 
Renters moved out unannounced and left appliances from rent to own place.  They did not give forwarding address.  They left trash and personal belongings and have not returned keys, garage door openers, and their pet did massive damage to door frame in garage.  They contacted me by phone and I gave them one month to return items and was willing to eat cost of damages.  They sicced the rent to own company on me and now I have a letter from a lawer claiming that the appliances need to be returned to the rent to own business.  The lawer quoted AR code Title 4 2A-306 and 307 and also code 5-36-115.
I was under the impression that any property abandoned by tenants owing would after some time become the property of the landlord.  These items have been sold second hand to compensate us for money owed by the tenants. 
Do we need to get a lawer?  Is this Rent to Own lawer just trying to bully us?  Any suggestions or wisdom in this situation?
OHlandlord

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Posts: 3,712
Reply with quote  #2 
Why would you sell items that didn't belong to the tenants? 

Your tenants didn't return the keys or give you anything in writing to say they moved out.  You did not legally have possession of the unit.  Did you follow your state laws on abandoned property?  Did you go through the state statute requirements to affix a notice of belief of abandonment (the usual procedure in many states) to the premises and allow the tenants time to contact you to contest your determination of abandonment?  You must do this before you can regain possession.  If no abandonment laws in your state, you should have followed through with eviction proceedings in order to regain possession of the unit. 

Did you hold and store those abandoned belongings 30 days in dry storage (as most state laws require) to allow the owners time to retrieve the belongings?  Did you dispose of the abandoned belongings as per your state law?  (Some states require open auction of the belongings with the proceeds turned over to the clerk of court.)  What state are you in so I can check for abandonment laws there?

If you failed to follow through with what the state statutes say you must do to declare the unit abandoned and to dispose of the abandoned property within properly, you may well owe the value of the rental appliances to the rent to own company.  This property did not belong to the tenants and should have been identified as such by sticker or tag on the back of the appliance.  Always cooperate with rent to own companies.  They are victims in the tenants' behavior too.  They have been convinced to rent appliances to them and have not gotten paid, just as you did with the unit.  Rental furniture should be returned to the owners.
rkkeller

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Posts: 764
Reply with quote  #3 
OHLL is right "legally" but sometimes you can BS.  Call the r-t-o company and tell them you have no idea what they are talking about, there were no items like that left there.  You have no idea what the tenants have or had and the tenant must have taken the items with them.

Then I would just ignore and return any future letters unopened.  Let them waste their time and take you to court, your not the one who signed the contract and the items they claim were not in the house when you took posession.  Get your spouse or a friend to witness this saying they went with you when you took posession.
OHlandlord

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Posts: 3,712
Reply with quote  #4 

Keep in mind, while you can claim the appliances weren't there when you took the place back, the rto guys can get the former tenants (and other witnesses who helped them move) to say they were.  And if they later end up being scrapped or junked, those junk or scrap iron dealers are required to contact the rto center (those items are tagged).  Those companies now must take IDs of anyone who scraps this stuff, and they will go back and contact that person to ask where they got the appliance (bought it from you!).  You have to be very careful about retaking possession by abandonment.  A professional tenant will set you up this way to sue you later!

raynolds3

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Posts: 35
Reply with quote  #5 
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paxbilly

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #6 
This is another time when it's easier to simply hire a professional auctioneer.

You as the landlord have a "bailee's possessory interest" in the appliances but you do not own them.

The bailee is acting as a warehouseman where your lien is for the storage cost of storing the appliances, which can be arrived at by using a convoluted per square foot math calculation or charging $10 per day per rented appliance storage fee.

The law allows you to charge a "reasonable" storage fee to a lessor of personal property of a former tenant. If the house is filled with a tenants abandoned personal property, typically the landlord is allowed to charge whatever the fair market or usually the contracted last rent as storage.

These items cannot be sold at auction unless it is for the unpaid storage fees, not as abandoned personal property by the tenant. It's a separate legal procedure that can cost legal fees, service fees, legal notice advertising fees and auctioneer fees in a situation where:

Rental companies know these rules and they will simply have the pickup guys bring a check for the storage fee when picking it up.

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Billy Burke, CAI - AARE - GPPA Auctioneer 
Graduate Personal Property Appraiser
818-583-7384
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