Tenant's Personal Property
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The information on this page is not a substitute for legal advice. You are not required to hire an attorney, but getting your stuff back can be complicated. Consider talking to an attorney to go over your options. One way to talk to an attorney is to visit a free legal clinic. Clinics provide general legal information and give brief legal advice. You might also hire an attorney for just part of your case or to do one particular thing, rather than represent you for the whole case. For more information, see our webpage on Finding Legal Help.
Removing tenant's personal property from the premises
A tenant's personal property may legally be removed from the premises for only two reasons:
- If the tenant fails to move out after the court has issued an order for restitution of the premises, a sheriff or constable may make a list of the tenant's personal property, remove it and store it. The sheriff or constable may delegate responsibility for listing, moving and storing the tenant's property to the landlord. Utah Code Section 78B-6-812.
- If the premises are abandoned, the landlord may make a list of the tenant's personal property, remove it and store it. In order to legally remove the tenant's personal property, the landlord must post in a conspicuous place a notice that the premises are considered abandoned. The landlord must also mail a copy of the notice to the tenant at his or her last known address. Utah Code Section 78B-6-816. For more information, see our page on Abandoned Premises.
Recovering tenant's personal property
To get his or her personal property back, the tenant must first contact the landlord (or sheriff, constable) who is storing the property to find out the cost of listing, moving and storing it. The tenant must then deliver to the landlord a written demand for the property with evidence of ownership and pay the cost of listing, moving and storing it. Finally, the tenant must get the property. All of these things must be done within 15 calendar days after the date of the notice that the premises have been abandoned. After 15 days, the landlord may sell the personal property and can keep any amount the tenant owes.
If the tenant has been evicted, the tenant can get some personal property back within 5 business days without paying anything. Under Utah Code Section 78B-6-812, the landlord must provide the tenant with reasonable access to retrieve:
- financial documents, including all those related to the tenant's immigration status or employment status;
- documents about the receipt of public services; and
- medical information, prescription medications, and any medical equipment required for maintenance of medical needs.
If the sheriff or constable removes and stores the tenant's personal property, the sheriff or constable must provide the tenant with reasonable access to retrieve these items.
For more information, see the Utah Legal Services webpages on Abandonment and Getting Your Property Back (utahlegalservices.org). Utah Legal Services also offers a Request for Return of Personal Property Form (utahlegalservices.org.
Selling or donating unclaimed personal property
Utah Code Section 78B-6-816 authorizes the landlord to sell or donate the tenant's personal property if it has been stored for at least 15 calendar days and the tenant has made no reasonable effort to get the property back, and no court hearing about the property is pending.
Unless the landlord has already sold or donated the property, the tenant has an additional 15 calendar days to get it back if the tenant provides:
- a police report or protection order for situations of domestic violence;
- verification by a medical provider of an extended hospitalization; or
- a death certificate or obituary for the tenant's death (provided by an immediate family member).
If the tenant fails to get his or her personal property in time, the landlord does not have to return the property or pay the tenant for the value of the property.
Public sale of tenant's property
If the landlord sells the property at a public sale, s/he may apply the money toward any amount the tenant owes. Any money over that amount must be paid to the tenant, if the landlord knows where to find the tenant. If the landlord does not know where to find the tenant, any surplus must be disposed of in accordance with Title 67, Chapter 4a, Unclaimed Property Act, including Part 2, Standards for Determining When Property is Abandoned or Unclaimed.
Notice of the public sale must be mailed to the tenant at his or her last known address at least 5 calendar days before the sale. If the tenant is not at the sale, all items may be sold. If the tenant is at the sale:
- the tenant may decide the order in which the personal property is sold;
- the landlord may sell only as much as is necessary to satisfy the amount owed; and
- any unsold property must be returned to the tenant.
In addition to selling the tenant's personal property, the landlord may also have rights under Title 38, Chapter 3, Lessors' Liens, and any rights or liens under the rental agreement.