What is my liability if I removed items left by the selller of the house that I just bought?

I purchased a home as a short sale. While I was in the process of negotiating the deal, I was able to rent the property from the owner until the closing. The house was vacant except for some items in the garage. Throughout the negotiation I kept making arrangements for the owner to come collect his stuff only to have him cancel the day before for some various reason. After I closed on the house I wrote an email to give him another chance to get his stuff and set a deadline for 3 weeks out or I would have the items removed. The deadline came and went with no response. Then he emailed me 2 days after the deadline saying he wanted to get his items. I had everything removed so what is my obligation?

Asked on September 3, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You need to check your state's escheatment statutes and laws of abandonment.  If the state law of abandonment required you to leave said items for him for longer, then you would have to do that and make them available.  However, if you have now already closed on the house and he did not make arranagements on the day of escrow to pick up those items, I could consider those items as abandoned property and you have no obligation to him.  Talk with your broker and explain what occurred. Let him or her help smooth this over since this should have been part of their responsibility as your real estate broker.

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