Ask LH: How Soon Can I Get Rid Of My Ex-Partner’s Stuff?

Ask LH: How Soon Can I Get Rid Of My Ex-Partner’s Stuff?

Hey Lifehacker, Recently I experienced a relationship breakdown. I still have two rooms of my ex’s stuff that I do not own and I don’t want in my house. At what stage can I dispose of this?

Is waiting more than six months a reasonable amount of time? At what point can I reasonably claim the stuff is mine, or start charging for storage? I have followed up with my ex, but I am not getting any response. Any advice? Thanks, Need The Space

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Dear NTS,

The important factor here is to ensure their tenancy has officially ended — if they are still on the lease you usually aren’t allowed to move their possessions without permission; even if they’ve stopped paying their share of the rent. The only exception to this rule are rubbish and perishable items which can be removed immediately.

If you own the property or are the only name on the lease, you are under no obligation to store another person’s possessions. However, before you do anything rash, you need to notify your partner — preferably by email or text message so there’s an existing record of your correspondence. In most states and territories, valuable goods need to be kept in storage for at least 14 days after you’ve notified the tenant to come and collect them.

When the deadline has been reached, you’re usually entitled to donate the goods to charity, dispose of them in a lawful manner or keep them for yourself. (If you choose to sell the goods, you’re supposed to give the proceeds to the tenant, however. No really.)

Interestingly, landlords may be able to charge an ‘occupation fee’ for retrieval of the goods if they prevented him/her from renting the premises. In NSW, an occupation fee (equal to a day’s rent) can also be charged for each day the goods are held up to maximum of 14 days. However, this is a lot trickier to pursue if it was a de facto relationship with no rental agreement in place.

You can find out what your specific rights are in regards to unclaimed property in each state via the following links:

Bear in mind that the above advice is designed with an amicable breakup in mind. If things were messy, it’s possible you might be looking for revenge. With that in mind, I asked a female colleague who had recently been burned by a crappy boyfriend to share her thoughts on your situation. Here are her two cents:

After the relationship is over and on bad terms, it’s fair game. You have done your due diligence by contacting him about collecting his stuff. It would be smart to keep conversation in writing, be it text or emails, so he can’t turn around and accuse you of ruthlessly disposing of his belongings.
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I would send him one more text stating you intend to dispose of his goods, giving a definite deadline for collection. Once the deadline is reached and he has yet to respond or come to collect, throw it all out. You’re not Kennard’s Self Storage.

If any readers have additional tips, hacks or anecdotes of their own, please let NTS know in the comments section below.


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  • I would strongly consider trying to contact him multiple ways – including asking his friends to remove the stuff. It’s probably best not to burn bridges so to speak.

  • My tips would be:

    * Document everything you have, and everything you give away, just to avoid any strange legal troubles later on (“He sold this!” “She never had it!” kind of BS)
    * CC a trusted third party in any SMS or Email you send — it’s easy enough for the second party to delete the SMS and claim that you sent them nothing, and that the record on your end is a switch (you sent an SMS to number 1, the modified the contact on your phone to show number 2)
    * Be very clear about when and how you want it picked up. Watched an episode of COPS a few months ago where a new and old tenant were fighting because they were promised the property on a certain date, but a “loophole” in their agreement meant they were taking furniture out one or two pieces at a time, causing great inconvenience to the new tenants. Tell ’em you want it all gone by this date, and to call 2 hours prior so you can let them in.

  • Six months? I’d give it one month, two at the most. If s/he is still not responding to texts/emails/calls after all that time, then do with the stuff what you will. It’s not like you didn’t make a reasonable amount of effort to notify them beforehand.

  • My advice would be ignore most of this ‘advice’, especially what a coworker says who has just broken up with a now ex.

    If you want to get rid of the goods, specifically ring your local police station and ask them for the rules and regulations in regards for removing the goods as they do change pretty regularly, or they get ammended etc. The police can advise you specifically in what you have to do. It’s exactly what I did, it’ll save you a lot of grief and avoid ‘Friend-sperts’, friends who think they’re experts, but aren’t.

    • This seems very redundant.
      The article clearly cites actual legal recommendations, and it’s more likely the police will tell you to ask a lawyer and stop bothering them.

      • Nope, the police usually have to get involved and partner issues such as property are quite often requiring things such as restraining orders etc. It’s the polices duty to inform you of what lines you can and cannot cross. You will be told a few things, you have to hold on to the property for a period of time, contact them X amount of times (this has changed over the years, so it’s always good to contact them) and you will be told of how you can legally dispose of the goods if needs be. I had to contact the police, as I said, and they didn’t tell me to contact a lawyer at all.

  • I feel your pain!
    I’m still on speaking terms with my ex, but the problem is, he’s been nomading it up between friends houses, so hasn’t had an official home yet, so nowhere to put everything.

    I moved most things out onto my back patio (all sides but one are covered in, so it’s fairly weather proof with the exception of rain on a really windy day) after 3 months. I kept some electrical equipment and things I know are sentimental, inside, figuring I wouldn’t want that to get damaged in wet weather.
    It’s nearly been a year now though, and I want my outdoor space back (especially coming into summer)!! It takes up over half the patio, and looks ugly and unorganised. He keeps promising that he’ll collect it (he doesn’t have a car so not sure how exactly), as soon as he gets a permanent place….

    Only solace is at least we ARE exes I guess. Dealing with that mess is better than still being in that relationship.

    If we weren’t speaking, the majority of it would’ve been binned by now.

    • Are his parents reasonably close enough that you can ask them if you could leave his things at their place? Than turn up with a truck full of it and put it in their garage.

    • Don’t taint Khorne with your needy bullshit, he most definitely does not give a crap about your emotional turmoil.

  • The way I see it, as long as you’ve done your due diligence and you’ve gone by the books, it’s fair game to get rid of. It can’t be that important if they haven’t picked it up by now, especially after six months.
    I’d make sure I have a third party present documenting and signing off on all the stuff that’s thrown out though.

  • My brother and his partner lived together and split amicably, he then discovered she was cheating with a neighbour. They arranged a time for her to get her stuff from his house (where she was living), she refused to come so after 7 days we dropped it all at her sisters house, who agreed to take care of it and give it to her..

    The cops said if we touched it or moved it from where it was in the house and anything happened to it she could report it stolen or willfully damaged… wish we could have left it in the front yard

  • My Ex-partner, signed his boat over to me for $11,000.00 (monies owed) and $1500 cash. I believe the he did it hoping to win me back. After he was arrested for breach AVO, and was put in jail, his brother rang me and enquired about the vessel. I told him what happened. I said i was going to sell. He said just try and sell it and see what happens. Ive got the rego papers signed, as well as a letter with two people to witness. (I did not trust my ex). Can my ex change his mind to suit him, in property matters like this

  • I got told by solicitor if I sell his stuff I can be imprisoned for theft of the items so I have to keep hold of them til he bothers to come get them.

  • What I would do, I will sort out and sell these items on Ebay! Instead of paying some storage fees for it, why not make money out of these items? I am sure that you will have a lot of fun doing so. It is not worth it to keep these in storage or even in small mobile pods. It’s going to be costly for a relationship that you don’t even want to be reminded of.

  • I want to share a testimony of my life to every one. i was married to my husband Alex, i love him so much we have been married for 5 years now with two kids. when he went for a vacation to france he meant a lady called Maria, he told me that he is no longer interested in the marriage any more. i was so confuse and seeking for help, i don’t know what to do until I met my friend miss mariam and told her about my problem. she told me not to worry about it that she had a similar problem before and introduce me to a man called Dr. Okika who cast a spell on her ex and bring him back to her after 2days. Miss Mariam ask me to contact Dr.Okika I contacted him to help me bring back my husband and he ask me not to worry about it that the Gods of his fore-fathers will fight for me. He told me by two days he will re-unite me and my husband together. After two days my husband called and told me he is coming back to sought out things with me, I was surprise when I saw him and he started crying for forgiveness. Right now I am the happiest woman on earth for what this great spell caster did for me and my husband, you can contact Dr. okika on any problem in this world, he is very nice, here is his contact [email protected] or [email protected]. Call him:+2348134367919. He is the best spell caster

  • As per some of the statements above, as far as I am aware, it is illegal for the occupant to dispose of or damage personal items belonging to the former partner if the former partner has not yet set up a primary place of residence.
    In this case, the personal items of the former partner may stay in the family home until such time as he/she has established their perminant place of residence. Only then the occupant is legally able to sell, or dispose of the personal items of their former partner after two weeks formal notice.

  • Am very happy to tell every one my testimony. i’m Juliana from united state,this is the story of my love life.I have been married for 4years and on the 5th year of my marriage, another woman had to take my Husband away from me and my husband left me and the kids and we have suffered for 2years until i met a post where Dr. INUSA have helped so many people and i decided to give him a try to help me bring my lover back home and believe me i just send my picture to him and that of my husband and after 24hours as he have told me, i saw a car drove into the house and behold it was my husband and he have come to me and the kids and that is why i am happy to make the testimony so anyone in need of help to contact him via [email protected] or his website, You can Call & WhatsApp him +27784916490.

  • My sister told me that she wanted to move in with me until she found a job and an apartment. She moved in with 31 bins of her belongings, which is stored in my garage. After three months, she decided to move back to her boy friends house out of state. She left her stuff into my garage. It’s been stored there since 8/15. She said that she wants her lied to me saying that she moved the stuff her for her adult children, needless to say they don’t want her things. I have told her that I want her stuff out. She says she doesn’t have a place of her own. What do I do? I want my garage back.

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