Property Abandonment Law Question (Tennessee)

This is a discussion on Property Abandonment Law Question (Tennessee) within the Landlord vs Tenant Issues forum, part of the REAL ESTATE & PROPERTY LAW category; In TN, for a period of over 90 days, the LL has abandoned property (furniture, clothing, toys, approximately 30% of ...

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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 08:14 PM   #1
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Confused Property Abandonment Law Question (Tennessee)

In TN, for a period of over 90 days, the LL has abandoned property (furniture, clothing, toys, approximately 30% of personal belongings, etc.) in the premises rented to the tenant. The tenant and LL had orally originally expressed intent to move this property asap. Immediately after the tenant made the initial rent payment, the LL then orally expressed no present or future intention to remove the property, and refused to pay for storage fees.

General questions:

Does that property become considered the legal possession of the tenant? How much notice needs to be given? - is the past 90 days sufficient?

How is the tenant liable for any/all property while leasing the premises? - in the unlikely event of for example a fire, break-in, search and seizure, etc. Can the LL take legal action to recoup damages from the tenant for said property loss?

Can the tenant legally place the items in storage? - And offer to release them to the LL when they agree to pay storage fees? After such actions demonstrated the LL's intent to abandon property, when would the property become legal possession of the tenant?

Do all of these actions have to be in certified writing to be legal? Will verbal agreements stand?
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Old Mar 1st, 2008, 10:12 AM   #2
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Default re: Property Abandonment Law Question (Tennessee)

You can't do any of the above. You are not the owner of the premises. You cannot charge the owner storage fees for his own property. You may not remove his property without his permission from his premises. (That would subject you to liability.) Oral agreements do not stand up in court. The only agreement that would be considered is what is in writing.

Your only choice is to write the LL a letter stating that you are renting the entire premises (unless it is listed otherwise in your lease) and that you want use of the entire premises by his removal of his possessions from your rented area, or a rent reduction for having use of a smaller area than you rented. In this letter give him 10 days to respond. Mail this to him by certified mail, return receipt requested, and keep a copy for yourself.

You must take steps legally to document that you do not have use of the entire premises. What does he have stored there? How much/many items are there? Are they stored in the living quarters or in a storage area (like basement or storage shed)? Is this a commercial or residential rental? These answers will dictate what can be done next. I also suggest you take photos (dated digital if possible) of his items being stored in your rented unit. Please respond with more info.
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Old Apr 5th, 2008, 12:59 PM   #3
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Confused re: Property Abandonment Law Question (Tennessee)

When is property considered abandoned in the state of tennessee. what do we do with the belongings of the tenant and how long do we have to store them?
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Old Apr 5th, 2008, 02:57 PM   #4
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Default re: Property Abandonment Law Question (Tennessee)

Tennessee Code 66-28-405 deals with abandonment of the premises and property. You would have to read it to see what it says about the tenant abandoning property and what procedures you must follow.

Tenant abandonment is different. The tenant doesn't own the property and once the tenant quits paying rent, he has no right to continue to use the property to store his possessions. The LL owns the property and may use it to store his possessions at any time. Usually a LL puts a clause in a lease to show that he will continue to use a certain portion of the property that is rented and that portion is not included in the rental. The LL usually uses one room of a basement or a storage shed on the property. He has every right to do this since he owns the property. The tenant cannot remove the LL's property without permission. He can request it's removal, or can request from the LL or a court a rent reduction for the area he is unable to use because of the LL's use of the area. But he cannot remove the LL's property.

The LL, though, may remove the tenant's property from the premises. He usually must store those belongings for a period of 30 days to allow the tenant time to retrieve the belongings. Read the state statute to see how you are allowed to remove tenant's abandoned possessions.
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Old Apr 28th, 2008, 05:42 PM   #5
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Confused re: Property Abandonment Law Question (Tennessee)

I run a mobile home park where 2 homes with different owners have abandoned their homes. I have not received payment for well over 3 months on either home. I have sent cert letters and tried to make contact with all emergency numbers I have on file. I own the land they own the home. I can consider this abandoned? In the lease I have them sign states about abandonment that after 60 days I own the property now is this legal or are their steps I may need to be taking?
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Old Apr 28th, 2008, 08:24 PM   #6
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Default re: Property Abandonment Law Question (Tennessee)

This is different than abandoned belongings inside a unit. Abandoned trailers are deeded property, just like a car. In order to "take over" ownership, you need to have a new deed made up. In the case of a car, you can have a new title made up. I suggest you seek the advice of a local attorney about evicting the trailers from your property and forcing their removal by the owners. If they cannot afford to have them removed, you can then negotiate for the title by forgiving the rents owed to you and getting the owner to sign over a quit claim deed.

BTW, a trailer in a nearby park sat unclaimed for nearly 10 years after a fire, until it could be claimed as condemned property so the owner could have it torn down and removed. Even if the taxes are not paid on it, the county or state usually won't foreclose on it because it is a trailer. You need an attorney for this one.
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Old Sep 8th, 2008, 01:34 AM   #7
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Default re: Property Abandonment Law Question (Tennessee)

My girlfriend moved out three years ago but didn't take her things, can I dispose of them? Is there alimitation to the time a person has to collect thier things.
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Old Sep 8th, 2008, 08:40 AM   #8
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Default re: Property Abandonment Law Question (Tennessee)

After 3 years, any state statute on the amount of time required to hold and store belongings (to give the person a chance to retrieve them) would have expired. You should be able to dispose of them by now.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2009, 07:18 AM   #9
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Default re: Property Abandonment Law Question (Tennessee)

In PA, my girlfriend moved out over 6 months ago and left behind several of her appliances, beds, etc. but did take a lot of her stuff as well as a lot of my stuff with her. Can I consider the stuff she left behind as mine now to sell, use or destroy?
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Old Jan 23rd, 2009, 01:46 PM   #10
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Default re: Property Abandonment Law Question (Tennessee)

Have you sent her written notice to come and remove these last belongings from your premises? If you have and she failed to do so, you can dispose of these items by now.

If you have not sent written notice, do so now by certified mail, return receipt requested, and say that she needs to contact you within 30 days to remove these things. Include your contact information. Keep a copy of this and the receipt that comes back. If she calls, give her possessions just to get rid of them. If she does not, dispose of them after the 30 days. Sending the written notice covers you (CYA) in case she later says you wouldn't give her back her possessions.

PA has no statute describing what you must do to dispose of the items. Dispose of them as you see fit as long as you follow the above.
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