Disposing Of A Tenant’s Property Without The Risk Of A Lawsuit

New Jersey real estate lawyerUnder N.J.S.A. 2A:18-72 of the Tenant Abandoned Property Act, a landlord cannot dispose of a tenant’s property until the following conditions are met:

  • The Landlord regained possession from the tenant by a successful eviction action, or by proof that a tenant voluntarily surrendered possession of the premises, which would be evidenced by a tenant returning his or her key or indicating in writing that he or she surrendered possession; and
  • A landlord shall serve the tenant with a written notice, indicating that tenant must claim all belongings in the dwelling within 33 days, or the items will be presumed to be abandoned, and shall be disposed of.

 

The Tenant Abandoned Property Act affords protections to both the landlord and the tenant of the residential or commercial property. It provides a tenant with an additional month to gather all belongings and it provides a landlord the ability to dispose of belongings that were left behind without the risk of a lawsuit. However, in some instances, where a tenant’s belongings, such as a vehicle or motorcycle are left on the premises, this procedure does not apply when attempting to remove the item.

 

One option is to call the local police department and have the vehicle ticketed for being left on the property. The landlord can then request that a local towing company tow the vehicle. In the event that the vehicle is towed, the tenant will be responsible for any costs incurred for the towing and storage of the vehicle, as well as any fees or penalties.

 

Another option is for a landlord to apply to New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and have the vehicle deemed abandoned. The following documents must be completed in order for the abandonment process to be completed:

  • A lien search application (this will also require a fee)
  • A notarized statement that includes the make, model, year, and vehicle’s identification number.
  • The landlord must publish a notice in the local newspaper regarding his or her intention to declare the vehicle abandoned. The landlord must also obtain an affidavit of publication.
  • A notice of publication must be provided to the local police department.
  • Photos of the vehicle and the VIN must be included in the application.
  • The Abandoned Vehicle 90 Day Notice (OS/SS-139) form must be completed and the Abandoned Vehicle 5-Day Notice (OS/SS-140) form must be sent by Certified
  • Mail, Return Receipt Requested if applicable.
  • Note: If a landlord wishes to “donate” the vehicle, he or she must fill out form SS-58.

 

The links below provides the forms necessary to complete the application to deem a vehicle abandoned:

 

Tenant evictions in New Jersey can be a difficult process for property owners, requiring legal counsel. The New Jersey vehicle abandonment process or disposal of a tenant’s belongings can be overwhelming for landlords. The New Jersey landlord-tenant lawyers of Hunziker, Jones & Sweeney, P.A. can advise you of your legal rights and provide guidance on the best course of action. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call our New Jersey landlord-tenant law firm at (973) 256-0456.

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