Who owns what in my new rental?
June 8, 2007 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Two weeks ago I rented a new place. A previous tenant left the washer and dryer here. I can't figure out who owns what! Help!

The landlord didn't claim them on the lease as provided appliances, but did tell me I could use them.

The prior tenant M terminated their lease very early. I am unclear as to whether the w&d belong to M or to tenant W, who lived here before M. I was somehow given the impression that the w&d did belong to W, but I have no real idea.

My neighbor had offered me money for the w&d , then ended up talking to the previous owner. Apparently he said someone was coming to pick up the w&d and that he was trying to sell them. I also know my neighbor told M that he was trying to buy the set. Thus I question whether there was ever any intent to get money for this stuff. That seems to matter, because if they were originally abandoned here then trying to claim the right to sell once I took possession is highly dubious.

No one has communicated to me directly their intent to come take this stuff out of my laundry room. They didn't tell the landlord they were going to be removing the stuff or doing anything with it. Isn't property left after you move out forfeit? I don't think the landlord can sell it but they can definitely throw it away. What about me?

I'm not exactly comfortable with the idea of someone coming on my property and taking stuff without arranging things with me beforehand. It seems a little shady. While I'm not sure who really has claim to it anymore, I'm not trying to steal it either and have left the room unlocked.

I feel like I'm getting tricked out of the w&d. I'm not convinced the owner ever intended to sell them, but I can't easily call them out on it. I offered to sell them to my neighbor because he wanted them and I had the opportunity to buy an ok set from someone I knew. But I wouldn't have agreed to buy the second set if I wasn't getting paid for the first, dig? I thought I'd be helping two people out, but now I'm feeling squeezed.

Does the prior tenant have any rights as to this property at this point in time? Is there an easy way to determine this? I live in Texas.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (12 answers total)
Lock your door. If they come to your apartment, tell them to contact your landlord- that the landlord told you that they were yours.

Possession is 9/10ths of the law. If they intended to keep it, they would have kept it.
posted by unexpected at 1:10 PM on June 8, 2007

Yeah, except that would make you a total douche. They're the guy's washer and dryer, right? Not yours, right?

I mean, sure, you can be a dick about it, or you could let the guy have them back and then say "hey, landlord, there was a W/D here, and now they're gone because they're someone else's. Can you provide new ones that will be left when I move out, or can you knock X amount it costs to go to the laundromat off my rent?"
posted by mckenney at 1:23 PM on June 8, 2007

This is not your battle. have them deal with the landlord. If he asks you to allow someone to pick up the w/d, then you can oblige, but you don' know what the situation is and shouldn't have to make judgements about who owns what. It is between the tenant and landlord.
posted by mds35 at 1:26 PM on June 8, 2007

What kind of idiot leaves a washer and dryer behind. They are yours until someone makes you give them up.
posted by maxpower at 1:58 PM on June 8, 2007

There is almost no way they belong to you. Whether they belong to M, W, or the landlord is the question, but regardless of the answer, you can't sell them to someone else.

If the previous tenant abandoned the appliances, they would probably become property of your landlord. Abandonment has specific elements. You can find them in your state’s code. If the previous tenant left them, fully intending to come back for them (not abandonment), they might still belong to him. Even if they do, he can’t just barge in and take them. He’ll probably need to go through your landlord and give you 24 hour notice. Then you’ll have to decide whether you want to bring up the lack of washer and dryer with your landlord.

Trying to sell them was a pretty dumb idea because A: they’re not yours, and B: it reminded the previous tenant that they were worth something.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 2:20 PM on June 8, 2007

Denying him access does not make you a 'douche'. You have no proof who they belong to, you don't have the right to allow him to take them. If M comes onto your property and removes the w&d without permission thats trespass and possibly even theft.
IANAL but I'd say that unless M specifically told the Landlord that he'd be coming back for them, then they belong to the Landlord.

Unless you're told otherwise, assume they belong to the Landlord and don't let anyone take them without his permission. If they belonged to W then M doesn't have any right to sell them or take them. Maybe M just thought he'd try his luck since you were planning to sell them and they're potentially no more yours than they are his.
posted by missmagenta at 2:39 PM on June 8, 2007

Yes, usually, anything left behind/abandoned by a tenant at the end of a lease becomes the property of the landlord after a certain number of days have elapsed (varies by state - may actually be in your rental agreement if your signed a comprehensive agreement - otherwise you could look up your TX renters/landlords rights). The previous renters may have made an agreement with the landlord but it doesn't sound like it. You should stick to referring all claims to the w/d to your landlord. If you feel you rented the property under the assumption (written or verbal) that a w/d was included you need to emphasize this when talking to your landlord. Also nthing the notion that you have a right to expect M, neighbors, etc. not to trespass.
posted by rosebengal at 4:12 PM on June 8, 2007

just get them off your hands. Dump them in a common area and let somebody else deal with them.
posted by Megafly at 5:05 PM on June 8, 2007

The landlord didn't claim them on the lease as provided appliances, but did tell me I could use them.

The landlord may well consider them his property, but might not have wanted to be on the hook for fixing them if something goes wrong. Generally, large appliances in your apartment that were there when you moved in can be considered to belong to the landlord. Just because it isn't on the lease doesn't mean they are yours. If someone else comes to your apartment and claims the W/D, tell them to talk to your landlord -- otherwise you might find that you have to buy a new W/D and leave them in your unit when you move out.
posted by yohko at 6:38 PM on June 8, 2007

Lock the door. Call the landlord, ask them whose they are, and whether you should open the door to let somebody take them.

Worst-case scenario: you're letting someone come in and take something that you don't really own. So while that doesn't mean it's necessarily yours, it certainly doesn't make it yours to sell, or let some third party sell. And it sounds like the person who is "selling" it, isn't really the owner.

You're right to be concerned. And that means you need to put the brakes on things, get everyone together, and work it out.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:54 PM on June 8, 2007

Not a douche to lock the doors. Anything left behind after the person moves out -- without an agreement -- is property of the landlord, and can be removed at the tenant's expense. At least, that's what every lease I've had said. If you don't have knowledge of any agreement directly from the landlord, doing anything but keeping that washer and dryer in your apartment is probably a bad idea.

You'd be a douche if you took a picture of the W&D and posted it on the front door with a sign that said 'HA HA, ITS MINE NOT YOURS!'.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 7:48 PM on June 8, 2007

Anything left behind after the person moves out -- without an agreement -- is property of the landlord, and can be removed at the tenant's expense.

In some states, though, property left behind must be treated as the tenant's until certain time periods or procedures (such as notice by certified letter) take place. In Wisconsin, there's a very strong protection statute for tenant property. Texas, maybe, not so much.

But it's pretty emphatically certain they are NOT the property of the next tenant. If the landlord decides to "dispose" of them under TX law by giving them away to the next tenant, or selling them to someone else, that's probably his call. Not yours.
posted by dhartung at 1:57 AM on June 9, 2007

« Older Looking for: skill sharing. Will teach: napkin...   |   How does one... mingle? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.