If staged furniture was left behind after closing, can we keep it?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If staged furniture was left behind after closing, can we keep it?

During our final walk-through last week we saw that the staging furniture was still in our home. Our realtor told us it would be removed by the day that we closed. After closing and heading to the house, I found that the items were still in there. Our realtor contacted the selling agent who reached out to the 3rd party staging company who said that they could come 2 days later and retrieve the items. Our realtor told them this was unacceptable as we were planning on moving a majority of our things before then. They responded that they would come earlier instead and someone would reach out to us after receiving my husband’s contact information. Fast forward to today when we finally got a call about coming to get the items. However, they have inconvenienced us and delayed our move by weeks as my husband and I won’t have another weekend off together for 2 weeks. I also don’t want them in my house potentially damag our floors and walls removing the items. Our closing date was known for 3 weeks and never changed. And according to the selling agent, the company was supposed to come Thursday, the day before closing to empty the house. Frankly, I don’t see this as our problem anymore. I didn’t ask for them to leave a house full of items for me to deal with. Do we have any legal grounds to charge them fees for keeping their items on our property for days after we took

possession or, even better, can we keep these items as our own?

Asked on November 12, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, you can't keep their furniture: someone's failure to collect or recover items promptly does NOT transfer ownership to you. You can potentially charge them "rent" (often called "use and occupancy" in this context) for any time post-closing their items are in your property. To rough out what that amount might be, divide the house's monthly carrying costs (mortgage, taxes, utilities, insurance, etc.) by 30 to get a daily rate; then multiply that by a realistic % of how much of your ususable space is being occupied. Example: you have $2,400 monthly costs, or around $80/day. Their furniture is taking up (or denying you the use of) roughly 50% of your space--you can charge them $40/day for the number of days post-closing their stuff is there. Alternately, you could charge them your actual costs for having to store your furniture elsewhere while their furniture is in the way, if that amount is higher. If they don't pay voluntarily, you'd have to sue them (e.g. in small claims court) for the money.

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