If a Tenant leaves his personal property behind after moving out or being evicted, you may be left scratching your head as to how must you handle the property under the law. Title 41 Section 130 (41 O.S. § 130) of the Oklahoma Landlord Tenant Act gives specific directions on how to handle a Tenant’s property after the Tenant is evicted or moves out. Through this article, I aim to address such a situation and explain the steps you may take in Oklahoma to deal with a Tenant’s property, without breaking the law.

If you are stuck with a bunch of personal property left behind by a Tenant after he moves out, and not sure how to handle such household goods, furniture, fixtures, etc., please read on.

(1) Landlord may take possession and dispose of Tenant’s personal property with no apparent value: If the Tenant has surrendered the property after the expiration of the lease term, has abandoned the dwelling unit, or has been lawfully removed from the premises thereby leaving household goods, furnishings, fixtures, or any other personal property in the unit, you the Landlord may take possession of the property. In your judgment, if such property has no ascertainable or apparent value, you may dispose of such property without any liability to any party. If the property is perishable, there is no particular way to get rid of the items, and you may dispose of such items in any way you consider fit. Perishable property is any property that may quickly deteriorate or spoil unless stored under proper conditions – including meat, fish, dairy products, etc. 41 O.S. § 130(A).

(2) Landlord must notify the Tenant if the personal property has apparent value: If the Tenant has surrendered the property after the expiration of the lease term, has abandoned the dwelling unit, or has been lawfully removed from the premises thereby leaving household goods, furnishings, fixtures, or any other personal property in the unit, you the Landlord may take possession of the property. In your judgment, if such property has an ascertainable or apparent value, you must provide a written notice to the tenant by certified mail to the last-known address. The notice may state that if the property is not removed within the time specified, the property will be deemed abandoned. 41 O.S. § 130(B).

(3) Property left for 30 days or longer: If the Tenant has surrendered the property after the expiration of the lease term, has abandoned the dwelling unit, or has been lawfully removed from the premises thereby leaving household goods, furnishings, fixtures, or any other personal property in the unit for 30 days or longer, such properties are conclusively determined to be abandoned. The Landlord may dispose of the property in any manner that he or she deems reasonable and proper, without liability to any party.

A Landlord is required to store all personal property of the Tenant – after he or she abandons or surrenders the premises, or is legally evicted from the property – in a safe place and use reasonable care while doing so. In essence, you the Landlord must not act deliberately or negligently to cause the loss of the Tenant’s property. A Landlord may store the personal property in the same unit that was abandoned or surrendered or rent a commercial rental space. In doing so, you may charge a fair rental value of the property or the actual storage cost incurred with a commercial storage company. This is usually the case if the tenant shows up before the 30-days are up to re-claim their property. 41 O.S. §130(C).

A Landlord may not be held liable for damages to any party for destroying, selling, or otherwise discarding the personal property under Section 130 of The Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, unless he acts deliberately or negligently violating the provisions of the sections – if that is the case then, the Landlord shall be liable for actual damages. 41 O.S. §130(D).

OKC Eviction Attorney serving Oklahoma, Cleveland, Logan, and Grady County

Vivid Niroula is a real estate lawyer and an eviction attorney based in Oklahoma City, who has a solid understanding of Oklahoma Landlord and Tenant laws, and experience in representing Landlords. If you need help in addressing a situation where the Tenant has abandoned his or her personal property at the rental unit, please contact us immediately by calling (405) 456-9250, or by filling out the Contact Us Form.