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Attorney & Counselor at Law
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I have rented a room to someone. She still owes $50 from January

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I have rented a room to someone. She still owes $50 from January and has basically abandoned her belongings here. I had someone scheduled to move into that room today and I still have the old renter's stuff here. Can I charge storage fees and do I have the right to change the locks? We had a rental agreement and are now on month to month. I gave her written notice to move mid-January when she couldn't pay all of the rent. Now I'm losing money because the new renter has declined to move in.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Attorney & Counselor at Law replied 5 years ago.
Yes, you may charge reasonable storage fees and you have a right to change the locks if you consider the unit abandoned. You also have an obligation to notify the renter by mail of the abandoned property. The landlord must then wait between 7-45 days before disposing of the property.

I think this guide from the Washington attorney general will be helpful for you. You need to follow the steps outline herein. I recommend you pay particular attention to the section on abandoned property on page 16.

http://www.atg.wa.gov/uploadedFiles/Home/Safeguarding_Consumers/Landlord-Tenant/Residential/landlord_tenant_booklet.pdf

Good luck!
Attorney & Counselor at Law, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 850
Experience: Corporate, Entertainment & Trial attorney with large law firm & Fortune 500 client experience.
Attorney & Counselor at Law and 6 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
If she shows up in the next few days to get her belongings, can I charge her for back rent and the pro-rated rent she owes me before I give her stuff back? She has never had mail delivered here and I do not have a mailing address for her. Also, can I put her stuff outside today so I can rent the room to someone else?
Expert:  Attorney & Counselor at Law replied 5 years ago.
No, you cannot hold her property as collateral for the debt she owes you. Also, you cannot put her stuff outside. It must be stored in a reasonable safe location. The tenant's property is protected by the law and must be handled according the guidelines. I know it seems silly, but you may have to mail a letter to her at your address.

It is very important that you follow the procedures exactly as described in the pamphlet link I provided above.

If you have any questions, contact the state attorney generals office. Contact information is in the brochure.

I hope everything works out well
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you...I appreciate your help. I will read the ATG info. I do have a couple of last questions then will accept to pay you. I will be changing the locks today so she can't come in while I'm gone. I just received an e-mail from her and she stated she will be here Tuesday to get her items. I will be at work and have plans that evening. Can I e-mail her back and leave a note on the door for her to contact me by phone to make arrangements to get her stuff at my convenience and tell her to stay off of my property until I'm available to give her items to her? I've made sure all the windows and doors are locked so she cannot come in without breaking in. I won't be available for her to come in until next weekend and want to make sure I don't have to cancel evening plans this week just to accomodate her. I do not want her on my property without me being here. I would also like to pack her stuff for her and it will be stored in my living room so I can hand her boxes out the door to her when she arrives at the appointed time. I do not want her in this house. Am I within my rights to pack her stuff so another renter can move right in?
Expert:  Attorney & Counselor at Law replied 5 years ago.
Yes, It sounds like the renter has abandoned the rental. Abandonment occurs when the renter falls behind on rent and indicates by words or action that they do not intend to continue living at the rental.
You have a responsibility to safely store abandoned items, your living room would be considered safe.
Of course, you can email her and do not have to operate on her schedule.

Best of luck

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