Can I give away my former roommate’s abandoned belongings if she wasn’t on the lease?

UPDATED: Dec 20, 2011

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Can I give away my former roommate’s abandoned belongings if she wasn’t on the lease?

I live in a 3 bedroom townhouse. I signed the lease for the townhouse with 2 friends – all 3 of us on the lease. 1 of our roommates couldn’t afford rent anymore and had a friend move into their room with them to split the rent. This month the lease was up and both girls moved out. The 1 that wasn’t on the lease still has her stuff in the garage and ignores our calls and texts as well as our offers to take it to her. Can we give it away? She still has a key to get into the apartment. Can I donate her stuff?

Asked on December 20, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If the former roommate for the unit that you are occupying has left behind her belongings, I would write her a letter seeking a set time for her to pick up the belongings. Keep a copy of the letter for future use and need.

If the belongings are worth less than $300.00, you can dispose of the items any way you desire. If worth more, I suggest that you contact some relative of your former roommate and drop off the items at that person's home and get a receipt from that person that the items have been placed there. The other option is to place the items in a storage facility off site in the name of the former roommate. When done, advise her where the items are in writing. If she does not pay the monthly rental, the facility will auction off the items to pay the unpaid rent.

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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