When is personal property considered abandoned in Pennsylvania?
March 20, 2013 6:55 PM   Subscribe

I recently had some house guests stay with me for four months. They were not tenants. There was no lease, either written or oral. They did not contribute to the upkeep of the house; they bought no food, paid no utilities. They left behind a bunch of stuff.

I've contacted them several times. Each time, they assure me that they are coming on a particular day and the day comes and goes without so much a courtesy phone call.

What steps am I legally required to take before I can just take it all to Goodwill or to a local charity that could use it? It's somewhere between 50 and 100 women's outfits.
posted by DWRoelands to Law & Government (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If they have missed agreed upon appointments, I would just call a charity that does pick up and be done with it. You've been more than generous.
posted by pearlybob at 7:01 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wow. They sound like wonderful guests. I'd hold a garage sale and put it towards the cost of four months of having them stay. I would check your local tenancy laws (even though I know they weren't official tenants) on the legality of disposing of property, there may be a length of time the property has to be abandoned for. Leave a message with your houseguests and say if it's not picked up by x date, out it goes.
posted by Jubey at 7:07 PM on March 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

I haven't a clue about your legal obligations, but in your shoes I'd sleep better if I gave them one more chance, this time informing them that you will donate the clothes if they don't show up as planned. Inform them of the consequences first.
posted by carmicha at 7:09 PM on March 20, 2013 [38 favorites]

Set up another date...this time with an exact time. Inform them that their stuff will be put on the curb at (specific date and time). Do this and go out for dinner and a movie. Document all previous attempts to give it back though.
posted by couchdive at 7:31 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think given your current details a warning of permanent disposal+one more attempt at a convenient hour-long time slot is all you need, but if you want to be extra-duper safe, hold it until 30 days have passed since their abandonment and then dispose freely. (I know, they weren't ever tenants, but I did say extra-duper safe.)
posted by vegartanipla at 8:01 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Or box it up in convenient cartons and leave it on the front porch, telling them that you will do so. If, after a day or so, they've not picked it up, drop the whole lot at Goodwill.
posted by jrochest at 11:38 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, box it up, tell them that they need to come get it off of your front porch by such a date and such a time or it will be headed to goodwill. You don't have to be there, they understand the consequences of not showing up. If the clothes are stolen, too bad. Seriously, who leaves that much stuff behind? Legally, I think you are totally fine.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:21 AM on March 21, 2013

You didn't say how far away they live. If you want to resolve this with no sense of guilt, 100 outfits would fit in a few garbage bags, bag it up and drop it on THEIR porch if that's practical.

Otherwise, the above advice is sound. Bag it up, give them one day to get it off your porch, then contact your local charity and be done with it.
posted by HuronBob at 2:36 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Be careful about leaving boxes/bags on your front porch indefinitely; one of my neighbors called the City and we got a violation for having too much trash in the front of the house.
posted by CathyG at 9:26 AM on March 21, 2013

I would box it all up and deliver it to their house. I'd tell them in advance when I was going to do this.
posted by w0mbat at 1:41 PM on March 21, 2013

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