Am I allowed to pack/box my ex-roommate’s belongings?

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Am I allowed to pack/box my ex-roommate’s belongings?

My roommate left with no indication of their departure. They did not call or text me or any other method of communication. I tried emailing about her having 60 days to remove her items including bed, TV and clothing. I have plans to utilize this extra space as an office. Are there any legalities preventing me from neatly packing up her bedroom? I don’t know if any mailing address for her or any family, her dad which is next of kin is a truck driver and stays in motels locally 2 nights a week for his off days and they always differ. What are my options?

Asked on August 5, 2019 under Real Estate Law, New Mexico

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

You can immediately pack her belongings up neatly and store them, whether in a closet, a secure (and dry, not-moldy, etc.) shed or garagage or attic, etc.   You do not have to let her belongings impair your use of your space.
You cannot dispose of them, however, without providing her written notice (e.g. a letter) sent from way or ways you can prove delivery (e.g. certified mail; fax; etc.) stating that she has left possessions in your space, stating that you did not agree to store them for her, giving her warning that you intend to dispose of them, and giving her a reasonable time (e.g. 30 days) to retrieve them from you.
Exception: if she is paying you rent to live there, you have to leave them as is until and unless she falls behind on rent *and* you properly evict her according to your state's laws (i.e. an eviction for nonpayment). If an when you do, you then have to follow your state's rules for disposing of an evicted tenant's belongings, which you should be able to get from county court; you can also get the instructions and forms for filnig an eviction action, and for any "notices" (official, written warnings you have to provide her) from court, too. Check with your court's website or in person at its clerk's office.


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