Storage Wars

Sep 20 2012

As amazing as it sounds, it is indeed true.  Even though this law had its genesis in Bloomington, Indiana (home of Indiana University) with its many rental homes and apartments, I'm willing to wager other states and municipalities have similar landlord laws.  As many landlord laws goes, this one too is to protect renters from the evil landlords and requires landlords to store tenant personal property, giving even more landlord responsibilities to would-be landlords.

Stated, the landlord law requires landlords to house tenant property and belongings of wayward tenants for up to 90 days.  If the items are not claimed by then, the landlord may liquidate the tenants property.  If the tenant property is abandoned, all bets are off.  If the tenant is being evicted but living somewhere else, the landlord has to jump through hoops to not only get the person out but the tenants property.  Granted, the law is to keep true "bad" landlords from going into a home and throwing out tenant personal property before renters can remove them, especially so in a college town like Bloomington.

So what does this landlord law ultimately mean for landlords?  Simple:  If you have a bad tenant that is about to skip out owing you rent and in the process of eviction, you can remove the renter's personal property but must store it, racking up additional out-of-pocket costs and more landlord responsibilities.  The law does allow you to get an order from the courts to remove the tenant property but again, out-of-pocket costs and more of your time being wasted.

For me, the landlord law simply hasn't applied to my situation which is good in a way considering all my other landlord responsibilities.  Four times now I've been forced to dispose of tenant property after the rental unit was abandoned.  When I mention abandoned, I'm not talking about the renter is gone and the lights are still on.  I'm talking, front door left wide open, spoiled meat and milk in the kitchen, flies everywhere, and clothes galore strewn everywhere.  In those cases I have given the renter 7 days for the renter to remove tenant property after determining the property abandoned.  Never have any of them called back or made arrangements to remove the renter personal property.

In many ways, it was a bit heartbreaking throwing out irreplaceable memorabilia (photos, year books, old scrap books, letters, certificates, clothes, etc)  In the end there is no winner in situations like this as the renters lose a lot, I lose resources in the way of time and money, but the local food banks (non perishable foods) and Goodwill do get a lot of stuff.

Indiana IC 32-31-4

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