For many reasons a tenant may leave a rental unit before it terminates, and in doing so may leave property behind. Reasons for leaving early could be abandonment, voluntary surrender, or eviction. The first step is to determine why the tenant is leaving - abandonment, voluntary surrender, or eviction - since the handling of personal property left behind depends on which situation has occurred. In New Mexico abandonment means the absence of the tenant from the premises, without notice to the landlord, for more than seven continuous days, and only after rent is delinquent. When abandonment is confirmed the rental agreement may be terminated, and the process of handling any personal property left behind begins. The same is true for voluntary surrender and eviction.
- Landlord must store all personal property of tenant left on the premises for 30 days.
- Landlord must serve tenant with a written notice stating the landlord’s intent to dispose of the personal property after the 30 day storage period has ended. The notice must also include a telephone number and address where the tenant can contact the landlord to retrieve the property. The notice must either be personally delivered to the tenant or sent by first class mail, postage prepaid, to the tenant at their last known address.
- The tenant may contact Landlord to retrieve the property at any time prior to the date specified in the notice.
- The landlord must provide reasonable access and adequate opportunities for the tenant to retrieve all of the property stored prior to any disposition.
- If the tenant does not claim their personal property by the date specified in the notice the landlord may dispose of the stored personal property.
- Landlord must store any personal property left on the premises for a minimum of 14 days from the date of surrender of the premises.
- Landlord must provide reasonable access to the tenant for the purpose of retrieving the personal property stored.
- If the tenant has not retrieved their property after 14 days from surrender of the premises the landlord may dispose of the stored personal property.
Eviction (writ of restitution)
- The landlord has no obligation to store any personal property left on the premises after three days following execution of writ of restitution, unless otherwise agreed by the landlord and tenant. Landlord is allowed to dispose of the personal property in any manner without further notice or liability.
Value of the property
In all cases, if the property has an estimated market value of less than $100 the landlord can dispose of the property in any manner. If the property’s value is estimated at greater than $100 the landlord has some options:
- Sell the personal property, with any excess proceeds over amounts owed to landlord to be mailed to the tenant at their last known address, along with an itemized statement of the amounts received and amounts allocated to other costs, within 15 days of the sale.
- Retain the property for landlord’s own use or the use of others, in which case the landlord must credit the account of tenant for the fair market value of the property against any money due and owing to landlord. Any excess value must be mailed to the tenant at their last known address along with an itemized statement of the value allocated to the property and the amount allocated to costs within 15 days of the retaining the property.
It is also important to note that a landlord may charge the tenant reasonable storage fees for any time that the landlord has provided storage for the tenant’s personal property, along with the prevailing rate of moving fees. Landlord may require the payment of storage and moving costs prior to the release of the property.