Dealing with ALL THE THINGS
November 8, 2012 7:47 AM   Subscribe

We broke up. The lease is ending. I'm ready to move. There's one big problem.

He won't come get his stuff! It's been eight months since he moved out without a word, three since I finally woke up and realized that life could be so much better not together and finally cut the cord. But his things are still in the house and I'm starting to panic about what to do with them.

- There are a variety of items, from large (tool chests, etc.) to smaller things. I've boxed everything that can be boxed. Total it's maybe a small studio apartment's worth of stuff. Probably nothing extremely valuable.
- There is a vintage car that I don't feel comfortable driving.
- There's nothing big/valuable left with disputable ownership (he took most of that stuff without discussion. I am fine with that.)
- He is living in a temporary situation near by without a lot of storage space.
- It's become really clear to me over the last few months that he's not a very reasonable person. I do not trust him to handle this in any way that makes life not-shitty for me.
- I would rather not totally screw him, which throwing his stuff out or onto the street would probably do.
- I have been asking him for months to deal with this or at least tell me what his plan is. Nothing ever happens. And now there's been radio silence for a week.

I'm moving on Saturday, the lease ends on Thursday the 15th. I have Sunday and Monday off and was planning to tie up loose ends and clean the old place those days.

So far my plan is to get a storage unit, pay for one month, put his things in it, and mail him the key. Is this a sound plan? Is there any way I could not have to deal with it physically myself - like, can I get movers to move things into a storage unit? Any other ideas to get him to respond or take care of it himself? And what do I do about his car?
posted by sockpuppet yo to Human Relations (47 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Your plan sounds more than considerate, all restrictions considered. Moving companies will indeed move stuff out of a house and into a storage unit.

Any other ideas to get him to respond or take care of it himself?

Well, so far you've tried "letting him store his stuff rent-free," and that obviously hasn't worked. I don't see why "giving him 3 days notice before leaving his stuff on the curb, including his car" isn't an option.

As for the car, could you call and have it towed? If you leave it behind when you move, what will happen to it?
posted by muddgirl at 7:54 AM on November 8, 2012 [12 favorites]

So far my plan is to get a storage unit, pay for one month, put his things in it, and mail him the key. Is this a sound plan?

NOPE NOPE NOPE. You don't want to screw him? If you have told him that you are moving and he needs to come by, he's screwing himself by not picking up his stuff. Don't give yourself any more responsibility for this.

I say on moving day you put the boxes on the curb, and call your landlord to see if there's a tow company they use for when people are illegally parked on their private property.
posted by Think_Long at 7:54 AM on November 8, 2012 [34 favorites]

If I'd been trying for months to get someone to pick up their stuff, and they refused to do so, I'd give one final warning then put it all out of the curb with a big sign saying "FREE" and have done with it.

It's not your responsibility to make sure his stuff is dealt with. I suppose if the lease is in your name then you want to get the stuff out of the apartment so you can get your deposit back, but beyond that it's his problem, not yours. Renting a storage unit and moving his stuff there is a nice thing to do, but you are under no obligation to go that far.
posted by cabingirl at 7:56 AM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]

Let him know when then lease ends. He has until then to go get them. If he doesn't, then it all goes to charity.
If he doesn't care about those belongings, you shouldn't either.

Seconding the having car towed, after the lease is up.
posted by Neekee at 7:56 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think the storage unit plan is more than fair. Mail the key registered mail.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:57 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

You are not under any obligation to do anything here other than give him a deadline. Here is all you have to say:

"I am moving out on Saturday. The apartment needs to be empty by Thursday, the 15th. Your things are boxed and ready for you to take away. I cannot leave your things in the apartment, so if you do not come and collect them, I will have no option but to put them out on the street. I don't want to cause stress or trouble for you, but I have no other option at this point. You can come and collect your things on Day X, Time X, or Day Y, Time Y if you'd like to retrieve them."

As for the car, can you just park it on the street and mail him the key?

It's good that you're being so considerate and generous, but it sounds like he is being totally inconsiderate and difficult with you — leaving without a word, abandoning his stuff, not communicating with you, so you really can relax here, you've already done your best. This is his problem, not yours anymore.
posted by amoeba at 7:57 AM on November 8, 2012 [19 favorites]

Careful with the storage unit idea: it will be hard to put it in his name, without his permission. You'll be on the hook (past due bills, collections, and subsequent dents in credit score). This will probably be problematic.

This isn't you're problem if you're conveying to him he needs to pick it up. Street-pile is totally acceptable, and not at all 'screwing him,' if you do your part and let him know whats up, he's the one screwing himself.

Don't be a dick, give him plenty of notice that the stuff needs to be picked up, but then it's not your problem.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:57 AM on November 8, 2012 [35 favorites]

Oh, and lots of charities will come by with a truck and pick things up. Let him know which one so he knows you mean it.
posted by Neekee at 7:58 AM on November 8, 2012 [15 favorites]

Why would throwing his stuff on the street totally screw him? He clearly doesn't want any of it, since he hasn't seen it in 8 months. Figure out the easiest or most beneficial way for you to dispose of all this stuff, such as:
-Ask the salvation army or someone similar to come pick it up
-Put it all on craigslist in lots or have a garage sale
-Put it on the curb and post a craigslist free or freecycle ad

...Tell him by email the date and time when this disposal event is happening. Don't say "I'm going to put it on craigslist." Send him a link to the ad and tell him you'd be happy to take it down as soon as he comes and gets his stuff.

Don't do the storage unit thing. You'll have to pay someone to move the stuff and will probably have to keep paying for the storage unit because this loser probably wont and it'll be in your name.
posted by juliapangolin at 7:58 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

My guess is that you would still be liable for the payments on the storage unit after that first month if he doesn't move his things out of there. So I would warn against that.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 7:58 AM on November 8, 2012 [14 favorites]

You've done more than enough. If he doesn't pick up the stuff by your moving date, curb it. You don't owe him another month of storage at your expense. It's his fault if he refuses to be reasonable, not yours.

(Personally, I'd donate his crap to Goodwill. Then at least it's not going to waste. Seriously, if he cared about his shit he would have picked it up by now.)
posted by windykites at 7:58 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

So far my plan is to get a storage unit, pay for one month, put his things in it, and mail him the key. Is this a sound plan? Is there any way I could not have to deal with it physically myself - like, can I get movers to move things into a storage unit?

There is a flaw in your plan! In that the storage company will bill you for the second month. And the third month. And probably the full year. (Unless you can book it in his name, with his credit cards? Which would be illegal.) Storage unit contracts aren't that vague that you book one for a month and then just... be done with it. Other than that, it is a great plan though.

Yeah: your final notice to him is that your lease ends November 15th. He has till then to get his things. His problem. Not yours.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:59 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Fill his car up with the most interesting/valuable of the stuff. Donate the rest.
Park the car on the street. Tell him the car will probably be towed as abandoned soon if he doesn't come get it. (Your name isn't on the registration or anything is it?)
Move away.
posted by aimedwander at 8:01 AM on November 8, 2012 [11 favorites]

Oh, the other reason for not storing it is if you put his stuff in storage he would be even less likely to claim it because he would know it was in a safe place. And you would still be on the hook. Phone a charity and let them claim his possessions after the deadline.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 8:03 AM on November 8, 2012

I agree - the storage unit will be in your name, so while that's the nicest option, it will just cause you trouble.

Are you sure he's getting your messages? Can you send him a letter express mail (to confirm that you actually notified him, since I think a signature is required for express mail) and say "I'm moving out this day, and if your stuff is not picked up by this day, Salvation Army will be picking it up on Monday."?

He's not going to make this easy on you - so you have to make the decision to do what is best at this point. It sounds like you have more that done your share here - storing it for months and notifying him repeatedly.

Putting the most valuable things in his car and then having SA pick up the rest sounds like a good plan.
posted by needlegrrl at 8:08 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ditto to everyone above who says give him a deadline and then either put his stuff on the curb or to charity. But added to that, please make sure you give him a deadline that works for you (including the cleaning schedule that you prefer). Don't give him the last day of your lease as the deadline.
posted by valeries at 8:08 AM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]

He's stood mute eight months. He knows when your lease ends. This would indicate to me he doesn't want these items anymore. Don't subject yourself to any more of his shitty silent treatment. Call upon Goodwill or Waste Management to cart his unwanted items off of the premises. Park the car on the street - he can either drive it away or deal with the city impound lot.

This guy abandoned you without a word, cherry-picked the apartment on his way out and won't muster even the millimeter of civility required to acknowledge your inquiries? Yeah. And the horse he rode in on.
posted by Pudhoho at 8:10 AM on November 8, 2012 [9 favorites]

Hell, I'd say give him a deadline - and then after that, move his stuff in to a storage unit for a month, and then spend that month selling it on Craigslist/ebay/etc.

Make sure he knows that if he does not at the very least contact you ABOUT collecting his stuff by X date, that this is what you will be doing AND that you plan to keep the money yourself. I'd bet the car would go for a lot, especially.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:12 AM on November 8, 2012

I know you don't want to screw him, but I have to agree with everyone else that nothing else is going to make him deal with this.

I have a friend who went through this with her ex. After months of pleading with him to come get his stuff, she notified him that the 1-800-GOT-JUNK guys would be removing it from the premises on this day at this time, and followed through with it. He FREAKED OUT when he realized she was quite serious and hauled ass over to her place with a truck just the junk guys were finishing loading up all his stuff.

Were I in your situation, I would either do what she did or send it all to Goodwill and take the tax deduction for my troubles.
posted by anderjen at 8:13 AM on November 8, 2012 [6 favorites]

I would give a call to Legal Aid or a rentalsman in your area to find out what your obligations are for giving your ex proper notification.

After watching askmes about this sort of thing a few times now, legal obligations to someone else's property can be surprising.
posted by ergo at 8:16 AM on November 8, 2012 [8 favorites]

When you call/write him, you tell him:

1. As he knows, the lease is ending and his stuff has to get out.
2. He can pick his stuff up at [3 times which are convenient to you].
3a. (OPTIONAL) You will have the movers drop his stuff off at a storage space if he sends you a key etc, or at his place if he asks you to. The movers are coming at [time].
3b. You have his stuff boxed up, and he or movers can come pick it up by [whenever].
4. Otherwise, you will leave the car in [place] and mail him the key and leave his goods in boxes on the curb on [date]. If you do not hear from him by [whatever], you'll assume he wants you to do this option.
posted by jeather at 8:17 AM on November 8, 2012

Seriously, just send him an email saying "your shit is going on the curb on Sunday." Give him a hard deadline. You're not screwing him, you're keeping him from screwing you. He's had months to get it.

Do not do the storage unit thing. He's not going to pay for it. All the paperwork will be in your name and you won't even have the key.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:19 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

I have been asking him for months to deal with this or at least tell me what his plan is. Nothing ever happens. And now there's been radio silence for a week.

Hm, yeah, I would go with the idea to load up his car with the most valuable-seeming items, or really as much as you can cram into it, and mail him the keys registered mail. The rest goes on the curb. No matter what you do, he is going to make a fuss, presumably. You have given him ample notice, this is his problem now. (Actually, it's been his problem all along, so I guess what I mean is it is ONLY HIS problem now, and not yours.)
posted by elizardbits at 8:27 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you know where he's staying, and you've considered towing the car anyway, why don't you put everything that's worth anything in the car and have it towed to his place? Leave the key and a note about where he can find the rest of his stuff (on the street in front of the old place) and have done with it?
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:35 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hell, I'd say give him a deadline - and then after that, move his stuff in to a storage unit for a month, and then spend that month selling it on Craigslist/ebay/etc.

I think that's a bad idea and who wants to spend time having his stuff moved and then trying to sell it. Life is way too short to invest this much energy on someone else's crap unless you really want to try and recoup costs or something. And storage is a bad idea for the reasons mentioned since it will be in your name.

Send him a certified note of when you want things out, in advance of your lease end date, telling him that everything will be picked up by 1-800-GOT-JUNK. This way you don't have to touch it and you're not trying to screw him.
posted by shoesietart at 8:36 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Give him a deadline. If he doesn't show by that deadline, give everything to whatever charity will come pick it up at your house. This is the least amount of work for you and the fairest to him.

As for the car, either park it on the street and let it get towed or have it towed directly, whatever is the least amount of work for you.
posted by zug at 8:44 AM on November 8, 2012

Oh, I should add that the main reason my friend called the 1-800-GOT-JUNK guys to do the job is that their breakup was not amicable and she wanted a third party there just in case things got ugly when he learned that his possessions were being disposed of, which they did. So that's something else to consider; if you end up putting his stuff on the curb or similar, I'd make sure that's the very last thing you do before leaving and that you're long gone in the event he actually comes to get it.
posted by anderjen at 8:45 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

How important is your rental deposit? Is it going to cost you more or less than moving his crap, renting a storage unit and your time while doing all this.

Leave his junk there. Your landlord will have a great deal more experience dealing with abandoned property. His stuff is not your problem.

Is there a Legal Aid office nearby? I'd think you disposing of his property could be construed as theft. The last thing you need is going through the hassle of junking his stuff, then him suing you for stealing it.
posted by Marky at 8:46 AM on November 8, 2012 [7 favorites]

One thing you could do is let him have a pod dropped off (he pays and arranges, you fill it with his stuff) and it will then be picked up and either delivered to his new residence or taken to a storage unit. I think U-Haul does these things now -- drop off pod and then they take it to their storage facility and store it for a fee. Then, arranging for a charity pick-up is probably your best back-up plan. Clearly mark the boxes with his name and maybe he'll be able to go round to the charity and find his stuff if he is too much of a baby to deal with you directly.

I would communicate these final deadlines and consequences by certified mail. You will get a signed receipt back -- keep a copy of this on your computer with other correspondence between you two.
posted by amanda at 8:47 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Give him a Hard Deadline.

The day after that deadline arrange to have all the stuff donated to a police family support charity. They will typically come pick it up, and almost always take cars.

If he freaks out and wants his car back he can go get it from the police station.

He can explain to them that he was too lazy and that needy fallen heroes' families can't have his things.
posted by French Fry at 8:53 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

You don't know what his situation is. Maybe he's ill, out of the country, drugged out on the streets... Try to reach him by phone, call people he knows and get his number, look him up in person. You just don't know what's going on.
posted by Dragonness at 8:53 AM on November 8, 2012

Sorry, spoke too soon, I see you do know where he is. In that case I agree with everyone else - just give him notice and have the stuff taken away by a charity.
posted by Dragonness at 9:01 AM on November 8, 2012

There are potential legal issues to leaving his stuff on the curb. Was his name on the lease? If so, leave his stuff in the apartment (nicely boxed so that it's easy for the landlord to deal with). Explain to the landlord that you've been trying to get ex to pick up his stuff for eight months and apologize for leaving landlord with the problem (I'd do this in a written note so that you have documentation later on if something becomes a problem). If you're feeling generous and are worried about getting a good reference for future apartments, offer to split the cost of moving ex's stuff to temporary storage or whatever the legally required course of action is. But if ex's name is on the lease, then landlord has some options as well as the legal obligation to deal with the abandoned property (and set timelines, unlike if you moved it to a storage unit yourself) for storing and eventually disposing of the abandoned property.

Whatever you do with the stuff, document everything.

Another advantage to making it an issue between ex and landlord is that it seems to me that this is some passive-aggressive way for ex to maintain his influence on your life. For this reason, I would recommend against a course of action that may leave him room for further contact if he suddenly, miraculously, gets interested in his stuff again and wants to, eg., sue you over your manner of disposing of it. (The storage unit is a bad idea for the same reason.) If ex's name was not on the lease, that's a different matter legally. Still talk to your local Legal Aid about how you can remove yourself from any responsibility over his stuff disposal. You may be technically in the landlord role in that case, in which case there are some notification requirements and some storage requirements, but then you'll be safely, legally allowed to dispose of the stuff after a set period of time. At the least, drop ex's stuff on his curb (or front lawn, or hallway of his apartment building, or relevant not-quite-curb but definitely on the property that he is renting at), not your curb.

In any event, you should get some sort of reward for your patience in putting up with this situation!
posted by eviemath at 9:43 AM on November 8, 2012 [11 favorites]

You seem like a nice and caring person.

Don't touch his stuff, leave it in the dwelling as neatly as you can.

Send him an email and a registered letter, advising him that the lease is up, you're moving out and his stuff is still in the house and that he needs to get it, otherwise, the landlord will dispose of it. Copy the landlord on this.

Don't trash it, store it or take on responsiblity for it in any way, shape, form or fashion.

Tell him, "I expect to get my part of the deposit back, less any damages. Any dumping fees etc, are on you."

Take lots and lots of pictures of what you've left behind, just in case he says, "Hey my original Picasso is missing!"

Be sure to forward his contact info to the landlord when you do your final walk through and return your keys?

Does your ex have keys to the place?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:52 AM on November 8, 2012 [8 favorites]

Definitely don't do the storage unit. They can put a lien on you, which may or may not be satisfied when they auction the stuff in the unit.

Better is the suggestion to give him a date and if he's not there on that day, either have a charity come or otherwise give it away through Craigslist/freecycle/curb.

If you wanted to go one additional mile, you could see if any friends of his would want to safeguard his stuff. But it sounds like you've already given him an additional marathon of miles.
posted by batmonkey at 10:39 AM on November 8, 2012

The man has had EIGHT MONTHS to get his stuff --- apparently none of it really means that much to him. And it doesn't matter if he's living in a tiny studio apartment or a giant 90-room mansion: either way, Not. Your. Problem.

Let him know that if he doesn't get it all out of there by 5pm tomorrow, Friday, then it will all be left on the curb. (Ignore the car.) The problem with leaving it in the apartment is, when the landlord does his walkthrough after you're gone? He'll deduct the cost of trashing all that stuff from your security deposit. The storage unit idea is nice, but when the storage company goes looking for month #2's rent, they'll be looking for you, the person who signed the lease.
posted by easily confused at 10:47 AM on November 8, 2012

omg- do NOT do the storage unit! If he hasn't come for his stuff yet, you should know damn well he's not going to get it out of a storage unit in a month. So then you'll be stuck paying more rent or have the unit owner on your ass to move the stuff. The storage unit will be in your name—that seems like a bad, bad idea and you would only be prolonging your headache. I echo the vote to tell him if he doesn't come get it by your move-out day that you will put it on the corner. Then do it.
posted by Eicats at 10:56 AM on November 8, 2012

It's possible to donate a car to many charities, and it would be hilarious if you could find one that would take it with his name on the registration. After giving him notice, of course.
posted by ecsh at 11:00 AM on November 8, 2012

The man has had EIGHT MONTHS to get his stuff --- apparently none of it really means that much to him. And it doesn't matter if he's living in a tiny studio apartment or a giant 90-room mansion: either way, Not. Your. Problem.

Morally, absolutely true. Legally, possibly not depending on the situation:(
posted by eviemath at 11:11 AM on November 8, 2012

He's had 8 months, I'd give him a hard deadline. No storage unit!

Do you have a mutual friend (or at least a nice friend of his) that can come get the stuff for him?
posted by radioamy at 12:16 PM on November 8, 2012

I think you should send him an email like amoeba's - if you want to avoid future "I never got it!" tantrums maybe text it to him also, and call or text one of his friends to tell them that they need to pass the message on as a matter of urgency. It sounds like a huge amount of stuff, and beyond odd that he is ignoring you. A storage unit sounds like a bit of a nightmare for you.
posted by jamesonandwater at 1:27 PM on November 8, 2012

Nthing NO STORAGE UNIT! At best, load his stuff into his car for him and remind him once more to come get it. Don't pay for a storage unit, don't pay to tow his car to him. That's his responsibility.
posted by ktkt at 3:35 PM on November 8, 2012

- Definitely send a registered letter, that way you have legal proof that you have given him notice that you are moving out and the end of lease date.

- I would, if I were feeling nice, put the best/most of his stuff in his car and park it on the street (note this in the registered letter). Otherwise, just leave the stuff on the curb and leave the apartment clean and empty. (The landlord may charge you for items left in the apartment that have to be removed.) In any case, I would park the car in the street because, again, the landlord may charge you for having to have it towed.

- Do NOT open a storage unit for him. You'll have to do it in your name with your credit card and you will be held responsible for any and all charges.

You really have done your due diligence, but I would follow the above steps to cover your ass. Good luck.
posted by deborah at 3:55 PM on November 8, 2012

Be very careful about the storage unit, and specifically, whether you will be responsible for subsequent months' rent if he doesn't go get his shit. Even if you're in the clear there, you're going way above and beyond.

It's his stuff. It's one thing to hold it for a while in your home, but he moved out and now you're moving out as well. I would tell him that you are throwing it all out on the curb before you move if he doesn't go get it (or leaving it in the apartment for the landlord to dispose of, depending on your situation there), and then follow through if he does not.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:24 PM on November 8, 2012

My only concern about the storage unit is how it might affect your credit if you stop paying after one month. I say tell him by which date he will be able to find his belongings on the curb and be done with it.
posted by thatone at 4:26 PM on November 8, 2012

Yeah, I think if you start paying for a storage unit, you will end up paying for the thing in perpetuity somehow.

I think at this point you say, "If you don't get your stuff, AND ESPECIALLY YOUR CAR KEYS, in three days, it goes on the sidewalk with a sign marked Free. Car included." Then he's been warned and it's not his problem. He may not care about the stuff, but maybe the car may get his attention.

Also, clearly he doesn't really care about this stuff if he hasn't bothered to get it yet.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:13 PM on November 8, 2012

Response by poster: I never checked back in here after all the incredibly helpful answers. Thanks, everyone! He ended up dragging things out until literally the absolute last possible minute (and beyond—the landlord told me he was still moving things when the new tenants were moving in. Thank goodness the landlords were understanding about it). It all got done eventually, though, with some ultimatum-giving that was really tough for me but necessary.

Thanks especially for the reality check about the storage unit. In retrospect, I can see that that absolutely would have gone pear-shaped in all the ways mentioned. Instead, I've been able to move on to my new city and my new life WITHOUT ridiculous baggage holding me to the old. Thanks!
posted by sockpuppet yo at 8:33 AM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

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