Personal property left in foreclosed auction house

I recently purchased a home at a trustee sale in Nevada. The previous owner’s principal residence is in Maryland. Over 90 day notice was given that the home was going to auction, and proper legal notices posted and published in the local paper. The owner has not removed property for that 90+ day time period. I understood that once the gavel fell, I owned everything as-is, including the items left in the house & garage, and that these items are considered abandoned. Now the owner (not a tenant) wants all of it, and thinks that he has ANOTHER 30 days to re-claim it.

Hi Hollis,
Items left in the house are NOT automatically considered abandoned property. If a tenant was living in the property you would need to give them the appropriate 90 day notice under the Protecting Tenants in Foreclosure Act and then evict them. It is in your best interest to have them remove their personal property otherwise you would need to inventory and dispose of the property within the laws of the state which would include holding a public auction if the value of the property is over a certain amount. You could inventory and move the property to storage.
Tread lightly here, the laws lien toward protecting the owners and occupants when it comes to their personal affects after a foreclosure.

How did owner get in contact with you? If the ex-owner and/or renters are no longer sleeping and eating at the property you need to figure out why the personal belongings are still there.

Ex-owners might be looking to get cash-for-keys to move their stuff. Maybe ex-owner was renting the place furnished until the property sold at auction. Or was letting a family member or friend stay rent-free. Talk to the neighbors. Ask them what they know. They should have some good intel.

It is hard to believe the ex-owner left for Maryland in such a rush they couldn’t make arrangements to move their treasured belongings. If friend or family member was staying rent-free get in contact with them and see if they will move the belongings for their cherished Maryland relative.

If no one is sleeping or eating at the property that means no one is paying rent which means there is no way the ex-owner stands to profit from leaving their belongings in the property. I doubt they are some legal shark looking to sue you if incorrectly remove their belongings. Your best bet is probably cash-for-keys or getting a local friend or family member of the ex-owner to pick the stuff up.

This home has not been permanently lived-in for at least 3 years… and there have been no renters. His attorney contacted us, because we changed locks immediately after we had the deed.
I still think that this is considered abandonment, since the owner had over 90 days to remove the contents. I have also seen other comments that back this view up.

Hi Hollis, They have an attorney and when push comes to shove the courts tend to favor the homeowner when it comes to foreclosure evictions and personal property. Put the stuff in storage or the garage and let them come pick it up. Be sure to take lots of pictures. It is one thing to be right in the arena of public opinion and quite another to win this battle in court. At the end of the day only you have to defend your actions.

I ws renting my house out even though it was in foreclosure. I lost it to foreclosure so tenant gets to stay until expiration of his lease. Can I remove my refrigerator and television?

Good question. They are yours - but it would seem you need to leave them there for the tenant. OTH, ALL the rent would go to the new owner even though part of the rent is for use of those appliances.
Anybody have any thoughts?


This gets into grey area and I don’t even play a lawyer on TV. But many appliances (e.g. a refrigerator on wheels) and TVs that are not specially built into a wall, are are not fixtures and hence are your property.

I would suggest you contact the new homeowner and let him know in writing and/or via e-mail that you intend to retrieve your appliances (assuming they are not built-ins, and hence fixtures) in 3 weeks time. Propose a couple of dates that might work for you, the new owner and the current tenants. That will give the new owner time to buy and have delivered (ready for quick install) the new refrigerator and if necessary a new TV. When you come for your appliances, make sure you bring a dolly + straps + cardboard for floors (avoid scratches) + one or more strong friends. Best for everyone to not damage the house while pulling property out. This should be a win for everyone as the tenants gets new appliances, the new owner gets a happier tenant, and you get your property back.

Courts and State law-makers are going out of their way these days to protect tenants who are oft caught in the middle of foreclosures. Consequently, you would be well advised NOT to remove your appliances without ample notice to the new owner who should in turn notify the current tenants.

I am planning to attend a forclosure auction on a house that has been vacant for many months. The owner (until the auction) is an extreem horder. From what can be seen through the windows and in the back yard, the house (and I suspect the garage too) is packed to the ceilings with stuff - boxes of clothes, boxes of?, furniture, lots of junk, bird cages ect. To the point that it appears that it would be impossible to walk anywhere in the house. She had a lot of caged birds and cats at one time. I believe the city removed them for public health as the city has placed several leins on the house for work they have done . The power and water have been turned off for some time and it appears that no one has lived there for at least 6 months or more. If I were to aquire the house a auction, what would be my responsibilites for the contents? I would have no idea how to get in contact with the current owner. Would I have to leave the contents there and do nothing for 30 days as it would not be possible to inventory all the stuff? After that time if she has not attempted to contact me to claim her “stuff”, could I dispose of it all?

Sorry I forgot to say that the house was in California

Did ex-owner leave forwarding address w. p.o.? You could establish that even before the sale takes place. If he/she did, you probably should send a letter. Caution would say you should, give 30 days notice.
If you decide to go ahead and simply rent a dumpster - I would video everything is it now sits, the best you can, - and then video as you dump items in the dumpster.
Of course you don’t know if there are any items of value until you get possession.
Extreme caution would say: mail a letter and post a copy of the letter on the property.

Thank you for your reply. It would probably take at least a twenty foot dumpster! The problem I see is that there appears to be a lot of possibly “good” stuff in with all the junk. For example, I can see dinning chairs stacked up with the plastic still wrapped around them as if they had just come out of the box. There are a couple of curio cabinets full of stuff. And then there is just STUFF!! piled up everywhere. I do not think you could take two steps into any of the rooms. The bank has posted a notice that the property was vacant, water & power were shut off and entry was denied except for authorized people. The locks appear to have been changed and the gates are chained and pad locked.
At some point after a foreclosure does the past owner loss the right to their personal property that is left behind and it is considered abandoned? As a last resort, does the personal property that is left unclaimed always have to be inventoried, placed in storage and then auctioned with the excess proceeds going to the past owner? If so,in this case that seems like it could be an administrative nightmare! I have researched the Hall of Records for liens and anyother contact addresses, but found no other address. I do know that she is in her mid 50s, not married, only child, both parrents have passed away and they gave her the house about 7 years ago where upon she took out the loan on the place that is now foreclosing. If a notice were placed in a paper, posted on the house and a letter is sent to the house and I heard nothing from her for 30 days, would I still have to go the inventoring, storage route?

So here is the deal. The owner of the property was served with a 90 day notice of foreclosure. That is the time that the clock started ticking for him to get his junk out and to make any final preparations to move the stuff out.

After the sale, all of the property and it’s contents became yours. Regardless of what others say, Legally, he was served with a 90 day notice and was given more than such to get the stuff out. Now that the hammer has fallen and the terms of the sale is that you get the property as-is where-is, you got all of it. As you saw it, where you saw it.

The owner, if he has not sent you a certified letter as he was on the foreclosure sale, nor has he notified the courts (who by the way will have zero sympathy for the previous owner - as he is no longer the owner) will side with you. Since he is not a tenant, he has no basis to argue that he was a renter nor does he have the basis that he was a tenant in another State.

If you purchased the house under a trustee, it was either foreclosure or bankruptcy, which this individual is simply out of luck.

1 Like