The Eviction Process

What to do with the tenant’s property

No landlord wants to deal with a nightmare tenant, let alone evict the individual for breaking the terms of the lease! However, no matter how well you screen a tenant, the eviction process can happen to even the best and most veteran of landlords.

One thing that can occur during the eviction process is the abandonment of personal property by the tenant. Oftentimes, this leaves the landlord in a predicament where they have to remove, store, or discard the personal property at their own expense. So, how do you handle abandoned personal property when you evict a tenant? Let’s take a look!

What exactly is abandoned property?

Most of the time, “abandoned property” is any item left behind in the rental property after the tenant has been formally evicted or left the property. Essentially, any personal property that has been left behind in the home or storage area even after clear evidence shows that the premises has been vacated. When handling an eviction, a landlord must follow guidelines set by the state to formally evict the tenant and provide a period of time for the eviction process to take place and for the tenant to move from the premises. Most of the time, a landlord will give the tenant 10 days after the notice of termination/abandonment has been posted on the premises both inside and out.

What are the laws when it comes to NC Statues and abandoned property?

There are several laws that govern how a landlord should handle the proper eviction of a tenant and also how to manage their belongings. To answer this question, it would be helpful to contact a lawyer or read the North Carolina Landlord-Tenant Laws and The Abandonment of Property Provisions. However, here are some general options to think about if a tenant abandons their personal property.

Legal Option #1:

Personal property (as defined by the state of NC) is considered abandoned 5 to 7 days after a lawful repossession of your rental property, and after the formal written notice has been presented to the tenant. As a landlord, you do have the right to sell the tenant’s property to help offset any losses that may have been incurred during the breaking of the lease. However, per North Carolina state law, you cannot profit from the sale of any such items.

  • For example: If a tenant breaks their lease and owes 2 months’ worth of rent and damages to the property in the amount of more than $500, you can sell their property and cover any outstanding monies over the security deposit. Still confused? Let’s break that down a little further.
    • The tenant owes rent money in the amount of $2,500
    • Subtract the security deposit of $1,500
    • You can sell and retain $1,000 worth of the tenant’s personal abandoned property through the sale of the items left at the home.

If you are able to sell everything for more than $1,000 in this example, you must give the additional money back to the tenant or surrender it to the county. Bottom line, you cannot keep any profit on the sale of the abandoned property. It is also advised to contact the tenant (if you have a way) and let them know you have every intention to sell their property.

Legal Option #2:

If the tenant’s personal abandoned property is valued over $500, and there are no outstanding fees or damages done to the property, you must wait seven days before selling or disposing of the belongings. As the landlord, you also have the option to move the personal property to a designated safe location for storage. If you choose to sell the items, you must provide the tenant with a detailed description of the property, the estimated value, the location of the property before the sale, the date/time/location of sale, and where to claim the money up to seven days after the transaction. If the tenant does not collect the monies, the proceeds must be given to the county government.

Legal Option #3:

If a tenant abandons personal property that is valued under $500, you may also donate the items to a nonprofit organization. The organization must separately store the property for 30 days with the name and address of the tenant. As the landlord, you must also post a notification at the rental property, post the notice where rent is collected, and send a letter to the last known address of the tenant stating that the items are at the nonprofit organization, and the individual has 30 days to get the items. If the tenant does not act, the nonprofit will take ownership of the abandoned property.

Final Thoughts

Clearly, navigating the eviction of a tenant is not easy, and the disposal/selling of abandoned personal property is a potential liability if handled incorrectly. At Oak City Properties, we strongly suggest contacting a lawyer if you have any questions about how to proceed with the abandonment of a tenant’s personal property. We also strongly suggest that you look into our property management services to help with future tenants and concerns.

At Oak City Properties, we make sure to work with you each step of the way when renting your property. Our full management property service will market the property, locate prospective tenants, and show the home. Once a tenant is placed in your rental property, we will: collect rent payments, provide 24/7 maintenance, help with accounting/tax services, assess and collect late payment fees, and help if there is ever a need to evict a tenant. If you are interested in learning more, give us a call at (919) 232-9222 or check out our website: https://oakcityproperties.com

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