Rights of Tenants: Abandoned Property
What happens if I move and do not take all my property with me?
If you move out without taking your property with you, you could lose it. So take all your things with you when you leave if you can. Don't leave things behind to pick up later. If this is not possible, Maine law does offer some protections.
The law says your landlord must store your property in a safe, dry, secured place. Then she must mail a notice to your "last known address," saying she plans to get rid of your things and listing the items. (Leave a forwarding address if you want to get the notice.) You must claim your property within 7 days after the notice was sent. If you do this, your landlord must store the property for at least 14 days from the date the landlord's notice was sent, giving you time to get your things. Pick up your things within the 14 days. If you do this, your landlord cannot make you pay any rent owed, damages, or costs of storage as a condition for giving back your property.
If you don't claim the property within 7 days, or don't pick it up within 14 days, your landlord may:
- sell the property for fair market value,
- get rid of anything he thinks has no fair market value, or
- return your property to you only if you pay for rent owed, damages, and costs of storage.
If he sells your property, he must send any money left over to the State Treasurer in Augusta, after deducting what you owe him for rent, damages, and storage costs.
NOTE: Effective September 2011, there are new rules for mobile home park owners who claim that a tenant has abandoned a mobile home. Go here to learn more.
What if I can't get my things because I am hospitalized due to my disability?
Write to your landlord and ask him to make a "reasonable accommodation" for you, giving you more time or a chance to get someone to help you move your things.
Note: If you are not moving out voluntarily, your landlord must follow eviction rules to get you out.
Remember: The best way to protect your property is to take it with you when you leave. Even though the law says that your landlord must protect your property, things can go wrong.
- Sometimes it is hard get back what you have lost or to prove what it was worth.
- If your landlord does not have your current mailing address, you won’t get his notice. Then you could easily miss the 7 day deadline for claiming your things.
- If you fail to act within the deadlines, your landlord can deduct for money you owe, which will be more as time goes on if there are storage fees.
- If your landlord damages your property, it will be difficult to recover that loss.
- Your landlord might ignore the law and get rid of your things illegally.
Revised September 2011; partially revised June 2014