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What should a landlord do with a tenant’s abandoned property?

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Landlords in Michigan have probably dealt with abandoned property in their rentals. Most of what a tenant leaves behind is junk, but how long should a landlord hang on to this property?

There are things landlords should keep in mind when dealing with abandoned property.

  1. A landlord should determine whether the tenant abandoned the property. If a landlord takes property without an order of eviction it can lead to potential liability.
  2. Does the property have any value? Food in the refrigerator, old newspapers, etc. is clearly trash. But higher end items such as bikes or stereos can still have some value.
  3. Michigan does not have a law in place to regulate how landlords should handle abandoned property.

Because there is no state law spelling out their duties toward abandoned property, landlords should have a clause in place in rental agreements spelling out what will happen to abandoned property. The clause should include terms such as:

  • The landlord may, but doesn’t have to, store abandoned property that has apparent value due to the sole discretion of the landlord.
  • Written notice provided to renter as to how to reclaim property.
  • Deadline for reclaiming property and after this date it is considered abandoned.
  • Tenant will need to reimburse landlord for storage costs.

A legal professional who is skilled in landlord and tenant law can help their client with any legal issues they encounter with their properties. Landlords have many state and federal laws they need to follow and having an experienced attorney available can make sure that they are operating within the law. An attorney can help draft rental agreements, eviction notices, advise their client on equal housing laws and represent their interests in any litigation.