How Long Can Someone Leave Their Belongings On Your Property?

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How Long Can Someone Leave Their Belongings On Your Property

When an individual leaves their personal belongings on your property in the United States, it can create a legal dilemma. The duration these items can legally remain on your property before action can be taken varies depending on state laws and the circumstances of the situation.

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Property rights in the U.S. allow landowners to control who and what is on their land. However, they also impose certain legal responsibilities, such as dealing with abandoned property in a manner that follows the law.

Before taking any action, it’s important to determine if the belongings are indeed abandoned. This usually depends on the intent of the owner to relinquish rights to the property and the failure to retrieve it within a reasonable time frame.

1. Provide Notice

The first step is typically to contact the owner, if known, and provide a notice that requests the removal of the belongings. The notice period often varies, but it is commonly within 30 days.

2. Document Communication

Document all attempts to notify the owner, including dates, methods of communication, and responses (if any). This documentation can be crucial if legal action is necessary.

3. Checking Local Laws

Local ordinances and state laws provide guidelines on how to deal with abandoned property. It is important to consult these regulations to avoid any legal repercussions.

If after a reasonable time the property is not reclaimed by the owner, you may have the right to dispose of the belongings. However, this should be done in accordance with local laws, which may require public notice or sale of the items.

State-Specific Laws

Every state has its own set of laws concerning abandoned property. For example, California’s Civil Code allows landlords to dispose of abandoned property only after a notice period of 15 days if the property’s worth is below a certain value, or 18 days if sent by mail.

Failure to follow proper legal procedures can result in liability for wrongful disposal of property. The owner may sue for damages if they believe their property was not legally considered abandoned or was disposed of improperly.


The length of time someone can leave their belongings on your property without repercussions depends on the laws of the state where the property is located. Taking the correct legal steps to deal with these belongings is crucial to avoid any potential legal issues. Consulting with an attorney or local law enforcement can provide guidance specific to your situation.


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