Property Management Blog

What to Do With a Tenant's Possessions After an Eviction?

Pinnacle Property Management - Thursday, January 9, 2020


As a landlord in Torrance, California, it is important that you have a tenant screening process. It is not all too uncommon that even great tenants can struggle with their rent payments.

In such cases, as a landlord, you also need to consider your bottom line. Tenants should not be allowed to live in a property with several arrears. There will be scenarios where they will need to be evicted.

There are times that an eviction can be as simple as asking your tenants to leave. Other times, the process has to go through the formal eviction process and can take anywhere from a couple of months to a year.

Once the eviction process has been fully implemented and the tenant leaves your property, the question now becomes what happens to their possessions after an eviction?

After the landlord has acquired an order from the judge, the sheriff can now evict the tenant from the property. Note that it is only the sheriff that can do this. When this occurs, the tenant is required to leave the property immediately and cannot take any personal property with them.

In most cases, the tenants are given 72 hours to return to the property to get all their personal belongings. The landlord can choose to extend this amount of time.


If the renter is unable to remove their belongings within the agreed-upon time, then the landlord now has the legal right to dispose of their things.

What to Do With a Tenant’s Possessions After an Eviction?

We at Pinnacle Property Management, have outlined exactly what happens to a tenant’s belongings after an eviction and the process they need to follow:

1. Contact the tenant 

Regardless of how the tenant left the property, as a landlord, it is also your duty to do due diligence and contact the tenant.

There must be a reasonable effort to get in touch with the client by sending multiple written notices of their abandoned belongings. These notices must include the inventory and itemized list, deadline for claiming, location of the stored property and any charges, details on disposal of the abandoned property if left unclaimed.

2. Inspect their belongings

Your tenants may have left different types of things behind. Upon inspection, you may throw away any garbage. For any fixtures that the tenant has installed, they become part of the property and do not need to be returned.

You will have to follow a due process, and possibly get the local government involved depending on the total value of the abandoned property.

If they left behind a car or any type of motor vehicle whether operational or not, will be handled by your local police. Coordinate with them regarding the details of the vehicle such as its license plate and parking location. They will determine whether it has been abandoned and will have it towed.


Once you have inspected what belongings they have left behind, create an inventory with descriptions of their state. It is better to document everything with pictures and videos to protect yourself from any possible liabilities.

3. Store these items securely

As a landlord, you are not required to keep their belongings. This is especially true if you are getting it ready for another tenant. You are, however, required to store them safely.

Track down any expenses incurred during removal and storage so that it can be added against the tenant’s security deposit or from the proceeds if these belongings are sold.

4. Dealing with the items

If the tenant claims the property within the determined timeframe, it will need to be available to retrieve them at a reasonable time. Landlords have a specific time to return belongings once the tenants claim them. For example, small items such as clothes, appliances, electronics, and personal items should be returned within 72 hours. For larger items such as furniture, the landlord and tenant should agree when they can be claimed.

The costs for removal and storage should already be determined before the tenants retrieve their belongings. This can be paid by the tenant or deducted from the security deposit.

If the tenant does not claim their belongings after the specific time frame and does not respond to the notices sent, the landlord can then make arrangements to dispose of the property. This can be done either through a public or private auction. The landlord also has the option to donate it or keep it in the unit for the next tenant to use.


You can keep a reasonable amount from the sale of the belongings to cover expenses incurred such as sending of notices, removal, and storage fees. 

The Bottom Line

One of the inconveniences of being a landlord is having to deal with evictions and all the events the come after such as dealing with tenant’s belongings. The landlord cannot just simply throw things out or sell them.

By following these steps when it comes to dealing with an evicted tenant’s belongings, you will save yourself from any legal disputes and future inconveniences.

Pinnacle Property Management
CA BRE # 01905815
22700 Crenshaw Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90505
Ph: (310) 530-0606
Fax: (310) 626-9786

We are open from 8:30am to 5:00pm M-F.

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