Abandoned Personal Property in Rental Housing

Last Updated On: 8/25/2016 12:53:53 PM

I moved out of my rental and left personal property behind. Can the landlord throw away my property?

After you move out and the landlord regains possession of the rental, the landlord must try to give you written notice that they plan to dispose of your property and give you a deadline to collect your belongings. Here is the West Virginia law on this issue.

A landlord is not required to protect trash.

When you move out, remove all your personal property and return the rental unit to its original condition so you can get back your security deposit. Go here to learn more about security deposits.

Communication with your landlord can prevent many issues.

Can the landlord pack my property and store it in another location?

The landlord is not required to leave the property in the rental unit. The landlord can store the property in a "place of safekeeping."

The landlord can charge you a removal and storage fee.

How is the landlord supposed to give me the written notice?

The landlord shall give the tenant notice by ALL of the following methods that apply:

1. Post the notice in a conspicuous place on the premises,

2. Send the notice by First Class mail, Return Receipt Requested, marked “Please Forward,” with Certificate of Mailing, to:

      A. The rental address; and

      B. Any P.O. Box held by tenant and known to landlord; and

      C. Any forwarding address if provided by tenant or known to landlord.

It is very important to give your landlord a forwarding address AND go to the Post Office to fill out a mail forwarding form so you do not miss the notice.

What must be in the written notice?

1. The rental unit is considered abandoned.

2. Any personal belongings left by the renter must be removed from the property or from the place of safekeeping (if the landlord has stored the property) by the date in the written notice.

What date for disposal must be in the written notice? How long do I have to get my stuff out of the rental unit?

West Virginia law gives tenants 30 days from the date of the mailing of the notice to get their belongings out of the rental unit or the place of safekeeping if the landlord has stored the belongings.

If the tenant is on active duty with the U.S. armed forces and notified the landlord, then West Virginia law gives tenants 60 days from the date of the mailing of the notice to get their belongings out of the rental unit or the place of safekeeping if the landlord has stored the belongings.

Can I ask for more time to get my property than the notice gives me?

The landlord must store the renter’s belongings for an additional 30 days if the property is worth more than $300 if the tenant does the following:

1. The tenant tells the landlord they intend to remove the property; AND

2. The tenant pays the landlord reasonable costs of storage and removal.

What are reasonable costs of storage and removal?

Reasonable costs of storage and removal depend on the amount and type of property left in the rental unit. For example, you may be asked to pay the cost of packing and moving your items to the storage area and any storage fees.

What happens if I do not remove my property in time?

The tenant gives up their rights to the belongings. The landlord may take, throw away or remove the property with no liability.

You may be liable for any fees spent by the landlord.

I did not abandon my property. I was evicted by a court and was set out by the sheriff before I could remove my personal property. What can I do?

For more information on personal property after an eviction, click here.

This is general legal information. For guidance about your situation, talk to a lawyer.