Disposal of Remaining Personal Property Abandoned by Tenant

DISPOSAL OF REMAINING PERSONAL PROPERTY
ABANDONED BY TENANT

N.J.S.A. 2A:18-72 through 2A:18-84
Reprinted February 2008


 

2A:18-72.  Disposal of remaining personal property abandoned by tenant

     1.      A landlord of commercial or residential property, in the manner provided by P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-72 et al.), may dispose of any tangible goods, chattels, manufactured or mobile homes or other personal property left upon a premises by a tenant after giving notice as required by section 2 of P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-73), only if the landlord reasonably believes under all the circumstances that the tenant has left the property upon the premises with no intention of asserting any further claim to the premises or the property and:

     a.      A warrant for removal has been executed and possession of the premises has been restored to the landlord; or
     b.      The tenant has given written notice that he or she is voluntarily relinquishing possession of the premises.
      
     The provisions of P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-72 et al.) shall not apply to the disposal of tenant property left on nonresidential rental property if there is  a lease in effect which has been duly executed by all parties which contains specific terms and conditions for the disposal of tenant property.

L.1999,c.340, s.1; amended 2001, c.51.

2A: 18-73.  Notice to tenant prior to disposition

     2.      To dispose of a tenant's property under this act, a landlord shall first give written notice to the tenant, which shall be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested  or by receipted first class mail addressed to the tenant, at the tenant's last known address (which may be the address of the premises) and at any alternate address or addresses known to the landlord, in an envelope endorsed "Please Forward."

     "Receipted first class mail" for purposes of this section means first class mail for which a certificate of mailing has been obtained by the sender but does not include certified or registered mail.

     When the property subject to disposal is a manufactured or mobile home, a copy of the notice required pursuant to this section shall also be sent to the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles and to any lienholders with security interests in the property which have been recorded with the Division of Motor Vehicles.

L.1999,c.340,s.2

2A:18-74.  Contents of notice

     3.      The notice required under section 2 of P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:17-73) shall state as follows:

     a.      That the property is considered abandoned and must be removed from the premises or from the place of safekeeping, if the landlord has stored the property as provided in section 4 of P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:17-75), by a date as follows;

     (i)  for all property other than manufactured or mobile homes not less than 30 days after delivery of the notice, or not less than 33 days after the date of mailing, whichever comes first, or 

     (ii)  for property which consists solely of manufactured or mobile homes, not less than 75 days after the delivery of the notice, or not less than 78 days after the date of mailing, whichever comes first, or the property will be sold or otherwise disposed of; and

  b. That if the abandoned property is not removed:

   (i) The landlord may sell the property at a public or private sale; or
 
       (ii)   The landlord may destroy or otherwise dispose of the property if the landlord reasonably determines that the value of the property is so low that the cost of storage and conducting a public sale would probably exceed the amount that would be realized from the sale; or

           (iii)   The landlord may sell items of value and destroy or otherwise dispose of the remaining property.

        c.      That in the case of a residential tenant, if the tenant claims the property within the time provided in the notice, the landlord must make the property available for removal by the tenant without payment by the tenant of any unpaid rent.

L.1999,c.340,s.3.   
 
2A:18-75.  Storing abandoned property

       4.  After notifying a tenant as required by sections 2 and 3 of P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-73 and C.2A:18-74), a landlord shall store all goods, chattels, manufactured or mobile homes and other personal property of the tenant in a place of safekeeping and shall exercise reasonable care for the property, except that the landlord may promptly dispose of perishable food and shall allow an animal control agency or humane society to remove any abandoned pets or livestock.  A landlord may store a tenant's manufactured dwelling or residential vehicle on the space previously rented, elsewhere on the premises or in a safe location off the premises.  A landlord shall be entitled to reasonable storage charges and costs incidental to storage.  A landlord may store property in a commercial storage facility, in which case the storage cost shall include the actual storage charge plus the reasonable cost of removal of the property to the place of storage.
 
L.1999,c.340,s.4.

2A:18-76.  Conditions under which the property is considered abandoned

     5.  a.  If a tenant responds in writing or orally to the landlord, on or before the day specified in the required notice, that the tenant intends to remove the property from the premises, or from the place of safekeeping if the landlord has stored the property as provided in section 4 of P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-75), and does not do so within the time specified in the notice or within 15 days after the written response, whichever is later, the tenant's property shall be conclusively presumed to be abandoned.

     b. If a lienholder responds in writing to the landlord concerning a security interest in any manufactured or mobile home, and the lienholder indicates an intent to remove the property from the premises, or from the place of safekeeping, or to pay rent as a condition of leaving the property on the premises, but fails to remove the property or make rental payments within the time specified in the notice or within 15 days after the written response, whichever is later, then the landlord may proceed as if the lienholder had not responded.

     c. If no response is received from a tenant or lienholder within the time period provided under section 3 of P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-74), then the tenant's property shall be conclusively presumed to be abandoned.

L.1999,c.340,s.5.

2A:18-77.  Tenant's reimbursement for storage costs

       6.      Upon removal of his property, a tenant shall reimburse the landlord for the reasonable cost of storage for the period the property was in the landlord's safekeeping, including the reasonable cost of removal of the property to a place of storage.  A landlord shall not be entitled to reimbursement for storage and removal costs which are greater than the fair market value of such costs in the locale of the rental property. A landlord shall not be responsible for any loss to  a tenant resulting from storage of property in compliance with this act unless the loss was caused by the landlord's deliberate or negligent act or omission.

L.1999,c.340,s.6.
 
2A:18-78.  Disposal of property, options

       7.      Property that has been conclusively presumed to be abandoned may be disposed of in any of the following ways:

       a.      The landlord may sell the property at a public or private sale;

       b.      The landlord may destroy or otherwise dispose of the property if the landlord reasonably determines that the value of the property is so low that the cost of storage and conducting a public sale would probably exceed the amount that would be realized from the sale; or

       c.      The landlord may sell certain items and destroy or otherwise dispose of the remaining property, in accordance with subsections a. and b. of this section.

     A public or private sale authorized by this section shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of 12A:9-601 et seq. of the "Uniform Commercial Code".

L.1999, c.340, s.7; amended 2001, c.117, s.23.

2A:18-79.  Immunity

     9.      Nothing in P.L.1999, c.340 (C.2A:18-72 et al.) shall diminish the right of a landlord of a nonresidential property to use distraint when authorized by law.

L.1999,c.340,s.9.

2A:18-80.  Deductions from sale proceeds

     11.      A landlord may deduct from the proceeds of any sale the reasonable costs of notice, storage and sale and any unpaid rent and charges not covered by a security deposit.  After deducting these amounts, the landlord shall remit to the tenant the remaining proceeds, if any, together with an itemized accounting.  If the tenant, after due diligence, cannot be found the remaining proceeds shall be deposited into the Superior Court and, if not claimed within 10 years, shall escheat to the State.

L.1999,c.340,s.11.  

2A:18-81.  Compliance with act constitutes complete defense

     12.      Compliance in good faith with all the requirements of this act shall constitute a complete defense in any action brought by a tenant against a landlord for loss or damage to personal property disposed of pursuant to this act.

L.1999,c.340,s.12.
 
 
2A:18-82.  Noncompliance with act; tenant's recovery

     13.      If a landlord seizes and retains a tenant's personal property without complying with this act, the tenant shall be relieved of any liability for  reimbursement to the landlord for storage and removal costs and shall be entitled to recover up to twice the actual damages sustained by the tenant.

L.1999,c.340,s.13.

2A:18-83.  Applicability of act

     14.      This act shall not be applicable to any unclaimed property which must be disposed of in accordance with the "Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (1981)," P.L.1989, c.58 (R.S.46:30B-1 et seq.).

L.1999,c.340,s.14.  

2A:18-84.  Nonapplicability to motor vehicles

     15.      This act shall not be applicable to abandoned motor vehicles.

L.1999,c.340,s.15.