What are my rights to property left behind by a tenant that was in arrears of their rent?

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What are my rights to property left behind by a tenant that was in arrears of their rent?

I have rental property in which my renter left owing me over $4,000 not including the damage to my property. I let her slide a few months with rent because she was single mother with 3 children and she had promised to pay me once she received her income tax check. After she left, I discovered an automobile was left in my back yard. I contacted the police department and they verified that it had not been reported as stolen. What are my rights to the automobile? I have not heard anything from the renter since she left (over a week ago).

Asked on February 16, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Please do not do anything with regard to the automobile at this point in time. It would be against the law for you to claim it as your own or sell it (it would be conversions) and you do not need that problem.  What you do need to do is to seek legal help to get a formal eviction of the tenant (yes, I know: she no longer lives there) because you have no right to re-enter the apartment until you have the order of eviction or abandonment and a right to gain repossession of the dwelling.  You also need to ask for a judgment for the back rent.  Once you have that THEN maybe you can get the Sherill or Marshall to marshall her personal property to sell to pay the judgement (any money over and above the judgement is hers, not yours).  Good luck.


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