If a guest moves out and leaves items behind, what can legally be done with them?

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If a guest moves out and leaves items behind, what can legally be done with them?

My husband and I were separated but I let him come back to live with me at my apartment (he was not on lease) to work things out. He stayed for 5 months but ultimately they didn’t work out so I had him leave. Now he refuses to come get his belongings and he has my spare key. What are my rights with his stuff? Do I have the right to throw them away and change the locks?

Asked on August 4, 2011 Iowa

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

This is sticky.  According to you it is not the marital home but he lived there with you even for only a short time.  Although I am sure that he does not want any of the liability of the lease, he will not want his belongings tossed away and he will make an issue out of it.  If he entrusted them to you in any way and you got rid of them then you could be guilty of the act of conversion and sued for their value.  Change the locks.  You have that right here.  But I would box up his things and put them n the basement for storage and let him know that he is to come and get them.  If he does not then you can bring it up when you file for divorce.  Good luck.


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