Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Evicted Tenant Abandoned His Car on Your Property, What Now?

This week’s post is a response to a difficult question many landlords face. Here is the question:

Motor vehicles left on the property after eviction? I know property can be disposed of after a given period of time. However, with cars/trucks, it seems almost impossible to get a junkyard to take a car if there is no title. Does the car actually become disposal property? I did have one incident where I pushed the car out onto a public street, and the town came and took it after a few days. (it had no plates) What is the proper way to handle these incidents?
ANSWER:

Taking it from the top, the first step to lawfully dispose of property is to obtain an eviction from the court, and having the writ of possession served on the tenant. After you have obtained a summary judgment, had the writ of possession served and the lock-out has gone forward, then N.C.G.S. 42-25.9 (g) provides:

"Ten days after being placed in lawful possession by execution of a writ of possession, a landlord may throw away, dispose of, or sell all items of personal property remaining on the premises, except that in the case of the lease of a space for a manufactured home as defined in G.S. 143 143.9(6), G.S. 44A 2(e2) shall apply to the disposition of a manufactured home with a current value in excess of five hundred dollars ($500.00) and its contents by a landlord after being placed in lawful possession by execution of a writ of possession. During the 10 day period after being placed in lawful possession by execution of a writ of possession, a landlord may move for storage purposes, but shall not throw away, dispose of, or sell any items of personal property remaining on the premises unless otherwise provided for in this Chapter. Upon the tenant's request prior to the expiration of the 10 day period, the landlord shall release possession of the property to the tenant during regular business hours or at a time agreed upon. . . ."

That was kind of lengthy but that wasn’t even close to the whole paragraph, I left out the part dealing with the sale of the property. I think it is important that the statute specifically addresses mobile homes left behind, but does not differentiate between motor vehicles and any other personal property.

Now the tenant has no right to store property on the rental premises and you can get rid of the vehicle you should look to the city or county in which the rental premises is located. North Carolina has two mirror statutes that allow for cities and counties to have ordinances regarding disposal of abandoned vehicles, and yes both ordinances allow for the removal of vehicles left on private property. Both N.C.G.S. § 160A-303(city) and N.C.G.S. 153a-132(county) provide that the city or county may have an ordinance providing for removal of a motor vehicle left on private property for more than two hours. Yes , that is right two hours. As an example you can find Wake County’s Abandoned Vehicle Ordinance here: Wake Abandoned Vehicle Ordinance.

So, you should check first with your city and then with your county if they will remove the motor vehicle, or if they can recommend a private towing company that will tow and store the car.

I would guess that while pushing a car into a street may be effective, it could possibly cause you to be fined for placing that vehicle in the street. I assume if you are sophisticated enough to own a rental property that you should be able to evaluate the potential risks and rewards of ridding your rental premises of an unwanted vehicle by placing it in the street.

None of this is to say if a tenant comes for his car or property that you should not give it to him. Generally, you are legally required to give your tenant his property back, and even if you are not legally required, it will usually make your life a lot easier if you return the property.

Another option is to check to see if there is a lien on the vehicle and advise the party holding the lien that the car has been abandoned. They just might claim the car.

Finally, the North Carolina Depart of Motor Vehicles has a contact number for abandoned vehicles at (919) 861-3187, and they may be of some help.

In short, this was very difficult question, that is part of the reason it has taken me so long to complete this post. Also, your answer will vary depending on where your property is located.

Good luck and Happy Landlording!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment

Legal Disclaimer

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. Nothing in this blog shall create an attorney-client relationship. The opinions expressed herein are those of the blogger and not of the PRAET LAW FIRM, PLLC.