When a lease expires and your tenant moves out, or when a leased property is abandoned by a tenant, there may be personal property left behind. As a property manager you now have the task of dealing with that property, and doing so means complying with the section of Utah law pertaining to personal property.

In Utah the exact language can be found in U.C.A. 1953 §§ 78B-6-815 through 78B-6-816. The answer to the question “What are my obligations as a landlord?” begins with the fact that the landlord must store the property (with the exception of some exempted items) for a period of time, allowing the tenant to retrieve the items and reimburse landlord for the costs of moving and storage.

Here are the details

  1. Landlord must provide notice about the property to the tenant and must post a copy of the notice in a conspicuous place and send by first class mail to the last known address for tenant a notice that the property is considered abandoned.
  2. Tenant can retrieve the property within 15 calendar days from the date of the notice if they pay all costs of inventory, moving, and storage to the landlord.
  3. Landlord is not required to store any of the following: chemicals, pests, potentially dangerous or other hazardous materials; animals, including dogs, cats, fish, reptiles, rodents, birds, or other pets; gas, fireworks, combustibles, or any item considered to be hazardous or explosive; garbage; perishable items; items that when placed in storage might create a hazardous condition or a pest control issue.
  4. If the property has been in storage for at least 15 calendar days and the tenant has not made an effort to recover the property after notice was sent, pay reasonable costs associated with the inventory, removal, and storage, and no court hearing on the property is pending, the landlord may then sell the property at a public sale and apply the proceeds toward any amount tenant owes. The landlord can also choose to donate the property to charity.
  5. Tenant has no recourse for damage or loss if they fail to recover any abandoned property.
  6. Landlord must give tenant an additional 15 calendar days to retrieve the property if the tenant provides one of the following:
    • A copy of a police report or protection order for situations of domestic violence, as defined in U.C.A. 1953 § 77-36-1.
    • Verification of an extended hospitalization from a verified medical provider.
    • A death certificate or obituary for a tenant’s death, provided by an immediate family member.

Public Sale of property

In the event of a public sale of property the tenant has the option to be present at the sale. If the tenant is present they may specify the order in which the personal property is sold. The landlord must then only sell as much property as necessary to satisfy the amount due by the tenant for damages, costs, and fees associated with the abandoned property, and any unsold property must be released to the tenant.

If the tenant is not present at the public sale all items are allowed to be sold and any surplus amount over the amount due to landlord must be paid to tenant, if tenant’s current location is known. If the tenant’s current location is not known then any surplus must be disposed of in accordance with Title 67, Chapter 4a, Unclaimed Property Act.