Need advise on tenants!


I have recently completed my first deal. I bought a house that I am currently rehabbing. I bought the house for 22K and I am fixing the house up and selling it for 85K. I got the house from someone that obtained the property through probate court. The property had tenants but they had to move before closing. Since this was a last second situation for the tenants I allowed the tenants to have a couple of addtional days to remove their items. The tenants moved most of their items but they left some other stuff. I keep calling them to pick their stuff up and they keep promising to come and get the remaining items but they keep breaking that promise. They also have 2 abandoned cars on the property they have to get as well.

My question is how do I handle this situation? Any help will greatly be appreciated.


Hey, Walt. I wish I could find a deal like that!!!

Are the tenants under lease? This may vary state-to-state, but wherever I’ve lived and owned rental properties when you buy the property you also buy the lease and are legally “supposed” to abide by it. If there’s a lease just try googling your state and “landlord” and “lease”. If that doesn’t give you what you want and there IS a lease it might be worth a consultation with an attorney who is well-versed in such matters. Oh, there might also be a landlord club or organization of some type where you live that could advise you.

If there’s no lease, I’d leave one final message stating that as of XXX day at XXXX time all property is being removed from the property and taken to the city dump. Vehicles towed to a junk yard, etc. Then do it. Don’t keep asking them to come get it. Is it anything of value? Are you afraid of some type of retaliation? If so, do you know where the people now live? If you do I’d dump it all on the doorstep and have their vehicles towed over there. Even if it costs you a little bit, I’d think it’d be worth it just to get their stuff gone once and for all.

You might also contact local law enforcement. They might be able to tell you if you’d be breaking the law by getting rid of the stuff, especially the vehicles.

Good luck!

Thank you for your advise you really helped alot. I will contact the local authorities to see if it is against the law.


Normally ( in our area ) once closing / settlement has taken place the property and its contents are that of the new owner . If they were removed proir to closing this leads be to believe there were they illegally there to begin with ( rent , broken lease . no lease , whatever) they were removed at which time there possessions should have followed.
It sounds like you have gone way above the act of kindness as far as storing there belongings but enough is enough , curbside it !

you MUST find out what the local (state) laws are on this matter. It is not just a matter of what is fair or logical. Some of the things suggested in other posts would open the potential for legal trouble in a tenant freindly state (e.g.Calif.)

I’m just curious if you found out hte legalities of all of this and what you have done to date?

Karla in Amarillo


Not yet. I will find everything out on Monday morning. Thanks for asking.


Howdy Retlaw:

Even illegal tenants or tenants at sufferance have property rights. Abandoned property that has value needs to be stored 30 days and then may be sold to cover the costs. The vehicles may be tagged as illegally parked by a friendly towing service and then the wrecker company can tow them off and deal with them. Get some stickers from a towing company and tag the cars. 24 hours notice I believe is all that is needed for apartment properties. It may be longer on private property. Check with a towing co, they will know the rules.



That’s 100% accurate for Texas property laws. And like you, I’ve gone through the very same, with vehicles, and other personal property.

I’m surprised you find time to post on here with everything else you’ve got going on!

Keep up the Good Work!


Howdy Kbrandau:

Thanks for your post. The school of hard knocks is an expensive school but you learn things you will never forget. Yes I am very busy burning the candle at both ends. I love posting here. I just hope it does not get so busy that I will not have time to read the posts and get lost in a sea of communication. It has exploded in the last few months and was kind of boring when Tim first started it. I actually joined and went away for months when it was Austin REI club.

One thing I have learned about being busy is I will start working smarter the busier I am and get tasks done by others that I would have normally done myself. I actually did very little physical work on my properties and rehabs now and hire it out. It was increased the budgets but the overall outcome is far better. I am looking for a 1031 replacement property for the 31 units that I have been working on since Christmas as the sell will close the end of the month. I love doing this part but am finding it hard to find a $1,000,000 distressed fix up deal.

Again thanks for the kind words and LOL yourself.

For what it’s worth, here in California, the owner is actually held liable for a moved tenants left behind items! I was told by the Sherrif’s department that if I simply left the abandoned items in boxes on the porch, and they were later reported stolen by the ex-tenants… they could sue for the supposed value. (And guess how many expensive items they will ‘claim’ were in those boxes at that point!)

We were told to put them in storage, either on or off the property. In our case, the tenants eventually did return a few weeks later for their things.

As for an abandoned car, police won’t even mess with it if it’s still on private property. It has to be on an open, public road (local police handle this) or highway (Highway Patrol) before they’ll deal with it. Again, if you just move it out there… you’re liable for what happens to it in CA.

I had the same situation. I live in Michigan, which is 2nd only to California as far as being tenant friendly.

In Michigan, you can be held liable for any property left behind, even if your lease states that if the tenant leaves, they are abandoning the property. Here’s is what we must do:

  1. File an notice of eviction.
  2. Wait 7 days for the tenant to respond.
  3. If they do not respond, ask the court for a writ of eviction
  4. Pay a processor $25/hr plus milage to determine if the stuff is property (if so, place at curb without damaging it) or if it’s junk (toss it in the dumpster).

I’ve never had to do this, but if I do have to, I will take pictures of everything–ez with a digital camera.

As was mentioned elsewhere, if you just toss the stuff, you’re on the hook. Be aware that there are many slugs out there who know how to work the system, and they do this purposefully, hoping you will then get frustrated and toss the stuff. After you do, they will go to court and say, “I had a 60” plasma TV, my grandmothers 7 caret diamond ring, a home theatre system, yadda, yadda, yadda".

Yeah, they had all this, but they couldn’t pay their crummy $600 monthly rent. The courts in Michigan urinate all over landlords just as Standard Operating Procedure. Better to be safe than sorry.