As a landlord, you might wonder what rights you have with regard to property abandoned by former tenants, whether it’s left behind in a commercial or residential unit. What should you do with that property? Let other people take it away from the unit? Throw it away? Are you required to save it somewhere?
This is an issue that frequently arises in landlord-tenant relationships, so naturally it is one covered under landlord-tenant law in Miami, FL and throughout the state. According to Florida Statute Section 715.104, before you can take any action with regard to abandoned property, you must provide written notice to the former tenant and any other parties who you can reasonably expect might own the property that it was left behind. This notice must be specific in identifying the pieces of property and also advise the former tenant that they are required to pick up the property within 10 days (if the notice is delivered in person) or within 15 days (if the notice is sent by mail). After that time period expires, you have the right to dispose of that property by throwing it out or selling it.
Value can be a factor
There are some additional considerations you must take into account when dealing with abandoned property left by a tenant, including the value of that property. Is the property worth more than $500? If not, at the end of the 10- or 15-day waiting period, you have several options for what you can do with the property:
- Claim title to the property and take possession of it yourself
- Throw the property out or donate it
- Sell the property and keep the proceeds of the sale
However, if the property is worth more than $500, you must take an additional step: you must advertise that the abandoned property is for sale for at least two weeks in a general circulation newspaper. Any balance of proceeds from the sale not claimed by the former tenant (less the costs of storage, advertising and sale costs), will then be paid to the treasury of the county in which the sale occurred.
In either circumstance, though, you have the right to recover the money spent on storing and advertising the property when putting it up for sale. If you store the property at the premises, the cost of storage will be determined by the rental value of the space needed to store it.
Keep in mind that even though you have the right to sell or dispose of property in particular circumstances, it is important not to attempt to stretch the rights granted to you under Florida’s landlord-tenant statutes. There are numerous examples of circumstances in which landlords acted in a way that exceeded their rights and paid the price in fines and lawsuits afterward.
For more information about landlord-tenant law in Miami, FL and what it says about how you can deal with abandoned property, contact an experienced attorney at the office of Rubén J. Padrón, PA with your questions.
Categorised in: Landlord-Tenant Law