No – Really. Do Not Leave Your Personal Property in Your Rental Property. Seriously. Stop it.
I have already blogged about this subject. I blogged about this messy scenario the very last time I blogged about anything. Yet, another homeowner came to me with this same issue, and when we got to court, the personal property left at the home, almost played against the homeowner. The homeowner left personal property in a basement area and an attic area, and the tenant seemed fine with this arrangement right up until that he quit paying and was about to be ousted; then those personal items became a huge issue.
The homeowner’s personal property had been there at the very beginning and throughout the lease without any complaint from the tenant. Ever. Yet when the tenant stopped paying and got served with a dispossessory, he went nuts about the homeowner’s personal property taking up all his space. He said that he had never had the entire house that he rented because there was “stuff everywhere.” Even more bizarre, in pictures of the home that the tenant brought for evidence of the inconvenience, it became clear that one of the personal items left in the house, a television, was such a detriment to him that he had to move it to his bedroom to watch it. That’s right. This guy had moved the homeowner’s television from the basement to upstairs, so he could use the television throughout his lease. However, when this victim quit paying, and he got called on it, he complained that this television had interfered with his rights to the proper use of the house. There were several instances of this lunacy with several pieces of property in the house. I caught the tenant in this game when I reviewed his pictures and scared him into negotiating. This guy was trying to counter-sue the homeowner for prorated back-rent for entire portions of the house that he claimed he could not use during the lease. Pay attention to that. The tenant tried to ask for partial monthly compensation for his so-called loss for the entire 12 month lease. He had not even paid his rent on part of that lease, yet here he was demanding to be reimbursed. Seriously. Had he not messed up and brought pictures showing he was enjoying the homeowner’s property, she could have lost much of the value of that house, and likely, she would have had to pay up to the deadbeat. I have seen it happen to other people in various courtrooms. Luckily, it did not happen to my homeowner this time.
This is how personal property could hurt you; I will use my homeowner’s home as an example. This homeowner has an upstairs, a main floor, and an unfinished basement. She left property upstairs and in the unfinished basement (I stress that unfinished parts of the house are still part of the house.) In extreme cases, a judge can award the tenant who starts objecting to that situation, up to 2/3 off the rent that the homeowner has been charging – three floors of home with two floors containing personal property becomes one fully usable floor of the home (again, it doesn’t matter if it is unfinished space). This devaluation can happen despite the terms of the lease; despite the established precedent that the tenant has been paying full rent until he decides to quit; despite the tenant using the personal property for enjoyment. None of that matters.
I will say this again. Do not leave any personal property in the house; do not leave a television, a picture on the wall; a paper cup in a window sill. Do not do it. It could cost you big. A judge could cut the value of your lease by the percentage of entire area, an entire floor of your property, if you leave anything there that the tenant chooses to complain about. Protect the value of your rental; take your stuff out of the house. Period.
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Evict Them For Me and Southern Real Estate Services DO NOT provide any legal advice. We have lawyers to whom we can refer you, or you may seek your own legal counsel.
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