How long to hang onto stuff after a friend breakup?
July 2, 2012 5:20 AM Subscribe
What are my obligations in holding onto stuff after a friend breakup? Particularly, with friends-of-friends?
Some time ago, I went through a friend-break-up with one of my closest friends that I did not initiate, though I believe she perceived me to be at fault. She returned most, but not all, of my stuff through a third party, I allowed her to keep some stuff of mine that was used in the business we had been operating together. I attempted to remain friendly with our mutual acquaintances. With some people, this worked: with my acquaintances who were primarily her friends, it did not, and overtures of went essentially ignored. This would be fine, except that I still have some stuff in my apartment that belongs to them - stuff they either loaned me or forgot.
I've attempted to reach out, via email and text, to talk about arranging a way to get these things back to them, but have not had my inquiries answered. I suspect it's out of friend-loyalty to my former friend, (due to a convoluted email I received from at least one of them) but am not really sure.
However, the important part is that I don't know what to do with their stuff. (Some clothing and books). Under normal circumstances, I have a spot in my house where things-I-need-to-return go, but now, given that I've been unable to return these things, the pile is kind of unwieldy and is preventing me from keeping things I need to return to people I am still spending time with. This is really frustrating to me, and I want to get this stuff out of that pile.
So, what do I do with the stuff?
I don't have the current address of either of the mutual acquaintances, so I can't just mail them. Also, I'm not sure to what extent I'm obligated to spend (admittedly trivial) money to ship things to people who can't be bothered or don't want to meet up to get their things back.
It could be argued that I should try to have this conversation over the phone rather than over email or text, but it just strikes me as a really unpleasant conversation that is likely to get drawn out, given the nasty tone of the last email I received from one of them. I don't want to engage in it. (Also, I've tried to call at least one of them and it has rung through, with no return call)
I have a ton of books and not a lot of bookshelf space, so I don't want to put them on my own shelves. If I put them in storage-space boxes, I'll probably never find them again. Same thing with the clothes - I don't have unlimited clothing-storage space, and would rather box them along with my own stuff I don't want to wear right now, but if I do, I'm likely not unboxing them for years. I will definitely not want to go through storage boxes to hunt for these people's things if they show up and want them back.
If these things were my own, I would have stooped them by this point. But because they belong to someone else, I am really unsure of what to do here.
TL; DR: I've tried contacting these people to get them their things back with no response. How long do I have to hold onto their stuff, and how obligated am I to keep it readily accessible?