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Ex-Roommates Abandoned Items

Discussion in 'Other Residential Landlord & Tenant Issues' started by goldennnectar, Aug 5, 2020.

  1. goldennnectar

    goldennnectar Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    My ex-roommate moved out about a month ago. He isn’t on the lease, his address was never changed to this house, and he never paid one bill. He’s been back to retrieve some of his things twice, but has left most of his furniture, clothing and other items. He has now blocked me and I do not know where he is staying currently. Can I sell his things to pay rent?
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I would advise against selling his junk.

    Why?

    Read your state's law on what landlords/roommates must do with abandoned property:

    The statute in Indiana regarding abandoned tenant property:

    Indiana Code Title 32. Property § 32-31-4-2 | FindLaw


    Keeping or Mismanaging Abandoned Property - When a tenant leaves items behind after vacating the property, the Landlord must treat it as abandoned property.

    Contrary to what you may think, you cannot simply dispose of the items or keep anything that you want. There is a due process that must be adhered to in order to legally deal with any abandoned property.

    Title 32 of Indiana Code 2012 Indiana Code :: TITLE 32. PROPERTY :: ARTICLE 31. LANDLORD-TENANT RELATIONS :: CHAPTER 4. MOVING AND STORAGE OF TENANT'S PROPERTY states:


    Summation of the law on abandoned property in Indiana:

    * A landlord has no liability for loss or damage to a tenant's personal property if the tenant's personal property has been abandoned by the tenant.

    * For purposes of this section, a tenant's personal property is considered abandoned if a reasonable person would conclude that the tenant has vacated the premises and has surrendered possession of the personal property.

    * An oral or a written rental agreement may not define abandonment differently than is provided in subsection (b) [of the statute].

    * If a landlord is awarded possession of a dwelling unit by a court under IC 32-30-2, the landlord may seek an order from the court allowing removal of a tenant's personal property.

    * If the tenant fails to remove the tenant's personal property before the date specified in the court's order issued under subsection (d), the landlord may remove the tenant's personal property in accordance with the order and deliver the personal property to a warehouse under section 3 of this chapter or to a storage facility approved by the court.

    * If a Tenant doesn't claim their property within 90 days after receiving notice, the warehouse or storage facility may sell the property.

    * So in essence, once a Tenant's abandoned property is moved to a storage facility, you should take yourself out of the situation.

    NOTICE, the statute fails to discuss the duty owed to a roommate.
    Because the duty falls to the landlord.
    Selling the property could cause you grief.
    If the roommate (deadbeat) squawks, the LL will likely find out what you permitted.

    This is why one should never allow a roommate NOT on the lease to LIVE in the unit!!!

    You, however, permitted to person to live in your unit ABSENT permission from the landlord.
    There are no laws about property abandoned by a roommate left with a roommate.
    The landlord/tenant laws are written concerning property left in the unit, which is owned by a landlord.

    Common sense suggests you attempt to contact the person and plead with her/him to come collect the junk.
    Common sense suggests that selling the junk would likely inspire the deadbeat to sue you for junk worth 20 times what the junk is really worth.
     
    shadowbunny likes this.
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    One slight correction to the above. IC 32-31-3-3:

    2019 Indiana Code :: Title 32. Property :: Article 31. Landlord-Tenant Relations :: Chapter 3. Security Deposits :: 32-31-3-3. "Landlord" defined

    Note the distinction between the three.

    You, goldennectar, are a sublessor and your roommate is your sublessee. Your agreement with your roommate made him your tenant.

    You are obliged to follow the law regarding his abandoned property.

    Beyond that I wholeheartedly agree with all of Army Judge's admonitions about roommates. They can be, and often are, nightmares.
     
  4. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Note to my friend, @adjusterjack

    Our Op said:

    If the OP failed to receive permission from the LL to allow the deadbeat to lawfully reside in the unit, I'm unsure if the deadbeat can be referred to as a tenant.

    In fact, most LLs might start eviction proceedings if a tenant did what it appears our OP did.

    Otherwise, I agree and concur with your posting (not that it matters).
     
  5. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Was he ever supposed to pay you rent?
     
  6. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Then your reference to this person as your "ex-roommate" makes no sense.

    If you can find a buyer willing to pay a price that you are willing to accept, yes, you can.

    However, I doubt that's what you actually intended to ask. If you're asking whether your "ex-roommate's" stuff has magically become your stuff -- thereby giving you the legal right to sell it and keep the proceeds -- solely because he hasn't retrieved it after a month, the answer is no. You will need to comply with your state's abandoned property law, which requires giving notice in writing (you can google "indiana abandoned property notice law" for more information).
     
  7. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    The relationship between the OP and his roommate is legally that of sublessor/landlord and sublessee/tenant regardless of the owner's interest and the owner appears to have had no interest in evicting anybody when the second occupant moved in.


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