Ask LH: Can I Sell My Crappy Ex's Stuff?

Dear LH, My ex stored his stuff in my garage but has never lived here. It's been there several years and he refuses to move it. I need the space. I am not Kennards. He is charming on the surface but is a deadly liar as he has proven in the past. I want his stuff out. Can I sell it or what? Incidentally, he says if I go near his place he will call the police. Thanks, Over The Edge

Garage sale picture from Shutterstock

Dear OTE,

Sounds like a messy breakup! In most states and territories, non-perishable goods need to be kept in storage for at least 14 days after you’ve notified the owner to come and collect them. (If you're interested, you can find an overview of the specific rules here.)

However, the above law is usually only applicable to former homeowners or tenants who left their things behind after moving out. If your ex never actually lived on your property, you have no legal obligation to store his junk -- especially several years after parting ways.

With that said, it's probably not a good idea to sell them. This goes doubly if you ex is the vindictive/litigious type. Once you sell something for money, it's difficult to argue that it was worthless clutter that you wanted to get rid of. In short, you aren't obligated to store it, but that doesn't mean it becomes your property: it still technically belongs to your ex.

Our advice is to make one final attempt to arrange retrieval with your ex. Make the request via email or text message so there's a written record of the exchange.

If he agrees, arrange for a mutual third-party to be home so you don't have to see him face to face. If he refuses to collect his stuff, wait the nominal 14 days and then either donate the goods to charity or dispose of them in a lawful manner. (Or if you like to live dangerously, get someone to dump them in his front yard.) Good luck!

If any readers have additional tips or anecdotes to share, please let OTE know in the comments.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    We had a very similar situation to this. An ex-employee left some large wooden benches behind, yet refused to come and collect them.
    If you're in Victoria, this link might be useful:

    No, don't sell, donate. No need to make a profit of your deadbeat or skanky ex. Give it to charity.

    Chris, I understand your point about not advising to sell the stuff as it places you in a precarious legal position. I think the problem though from OTE's point of view is that it can be costly to dispose of a garage full of stuff, whether it's worthless junk or even something of value. Especially legally.

    If the ex is refusing to collect the items, selling them is a way to get someone to come and collect them at no cost to OTE. What about perhaps advertising them on gumtree/craigslist as free for anyone who collects them?

      Not really. It only costs about $50 to dump a full load into landfill...

    I'd simply contact them in writing and give them the 14 day ultimatum. State that once this time is past you'll dump the stuff on the front lawn to be collected by a good will charity or other 3rd party (i.e public pilfering).

    I did a mix and match after notifying. Large items (such as picture frames, furniture) that weren't collected I simply included in a garage sale and subsequently threw out anything else that wasn't of value. Anything else I found tucked away amongst my stuff over a period time afterwards, that may have had value both fiscally or emotionally I just dropped off at their parents to pass on.
    I also did the same for digital files that may have been on a USB or in a random folder on PC (photo's documents etc). I just emailed them off and then deleted.

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