Am I liable for my ex-girlfriend’s items that she left on my property?

UPDATED: May 30, 2012

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Am I liable for my ex-girlfriend’s items that she left on my property?

For the last 3 months, my ex-girlfriend was living with me at my residence. We broke off recently and she left my property but she did not take her furniture, electronics, a pet cat, clothes and kitchen utensils with her. Can I held be liable if she comes back after a week and lies that her stuff is missing or was damaged? All I want is for her to take whatever belongs to her. How can I legally make her take her stuff back and not be liable for damages or loss of her items?

Asked on May 30, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

From what you write, it appears that your ex-girlfriend was not  a tenant, but was living there as your guest. In that case, she is not covered by the laws protecting tenant property after termination of tenancy.

The best way to handle matters then would be to send her some written notice, sent some way you can prove delivery (e.g. certified mail, return receipt requested; fed ex; etc.) letting her know that she has 30 days to recover her goods and that if she does not recover them by then, you will treat them as abandoned and dispose of them as you see fit. Then hold on to her belongings until the expiration of that period, after which you can dispose of them.

You might also take photographs of all her belongings, using a digital camera that date-stamps the time/date, to prove the shape/condition they are in. And also you should create an inventory of her goods, with a written description of their condition, and have a friend (or two) review it and sign it with  you, so you also have witnesses to their condition.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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