Any Experience With "Leaving It All Behind"?

My father-in-law is the manager of a large apartment complex. One of the side benefits of this for everyone in the family is the occasional furniture upgrades. People constantly move out and leave behind a couch or table that, for one reason or another, they couldn’t/didn’t want to take with them. If it’s good stuff, then yoink!

However, every now and then, we run into a case like we’re seeing right now. A tenant had been locked out for non-payment – these happen all the time – it’s generally just a matter of “square things up and you’ll be fine, otherwise let us know and we’ll let you in (escorted) to get your stuff”. But in this case, the tenant went to visit some friends in Florida, decided he liked it, and isn’t coming back. They phoned him up, and he had a complete “don’t care” attitude about it.

We went in last week to take a look (dibs on the beautiful dining room set), and were amazed. Flat-screen TV, nice living room furniture, X-Box, all left behind. Furniture I can more or less understand, but how about all the $160 football jerseys in the closet? For cripes sake, how about the pile of cash you left sitting on the fricking bed? Is that too tough to transport? We’re talking two, maybe three hundred bucks just sitting there – not like a suitcase filled with tens of thousands of certainly ill-gotten gains. Clothes still in dressers, the cabinets stocked with food, everything all left behind. Bizarre…

So now I’m wondering – anyone here ever just said “Hell with it, I don’t need all that stuff from my former life, I’m walking away”?

New Jersey has very strict laws regarding disposal of tenants abandoned property by landlords. If the management company doesn’t follow the law to the letter, even if the tenant said they don’t want any of it, the managemnt company will still be on the hook if the tenant decides to pursue the matter.

Perhaps most of the stuff was bought on credit (that he can’t pay back)?

I’d say it’s pretty common in relationship break-ups - I certainly walked away with very very little from my last relationship, mainly out of guilt. I’d hurt my ex bad, and the last thing I wanted to do was half strip the house, even though half was mine. Apart from a sofa and a duvet cover, I’ve pretty much had to start from scratch.

My husband did this when we moved in together. We lived in separate cities and he got a job transfer to another state. We decided that I would come along. His company paid for the moving company and, since I had nicer stuff, we arranged for them to come get all my things and take them to our new apartment. He loaded up his clothes and sentimental stuff in his car and left everything else in his apartment. There wasn’t anything as valuable as what was described in the OP, but there was a tv, stereo, bed, couch, food, etc.

Since then, we’ve made two international moves that involved us selling almost everything we own and starting from scratch, which is a little different but along the same lines.

My parents’ marriage finally broke up a few months before I was due to leave for uni. My mother and I stayed in the house initially but she couldn’t bear living there so we packed up some clothes and left the place to my dad. I guess most of my stuff might still be there but I haven’t been inside since my dad moved back in.

At the time I mainly felt relief at getting out of that house. There was so much emotional turmoil and family drama to deal with it didn’t even occur to me to worry about the things I was leaving behind.

Leaving behind my two most beloved childhood stuffed animals was the only thing that caused me any pain. Then I reminded myself I was 17 years old, not 7, and was being a wee bit silly. It’s just stuff.

In a sense, yes. I loaded everything that was sentimental and I could fit into an omni when I left a physically abusive ex-fiance. All I took was photo albums/jewelry/clothing/family heirlooms. Luckily most of my really personal and expensive family heirlooms hadn’t been given to me yet - my grandmother died the next year. Still, I left behind probably a 14 foot moving trucks worth of stuff.

What’s an omni?

Can you just take the stuff he left behind if it’s not been paid for (or stolen, even)?

A small and crappy hatchback.

BTW, you had better be careful with the policy of lockouts for nonpayment. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in New Jersey. In New York, the tenant would be entitled to triple damages (ie, you would end up paying him).

I doubt the landlord can even locate the lienholders.

Happened to me by accident once. I was living in California and came back to Mississippi for a visit. Somehow while I was gone my boyfriend got us kicked out of the apt. complex we lived in. He didn’t get any of my things out before he was locked out. My bicycle, dishes my mom & aunt had given me, TV, stereo, bed, clothes … I’m still mad about it and this was, like, 1983 when it happened. Grrrr.

But where were they going without ever knowing the way?

In NJ you need to go through an eviction process. It can take a while, but if the eviction is ordered you can not only lock out the tenant, if he/she is physically present in the dwelling you can have the police come and bodily remove him/her and all possessions. IANAL, but I was a landlord and we did have to do this on one occasion.

Yes, you can formally evict someone 9in every state), but from what was said:
A tenant had been locked out for non-payment – these happen all the time – it’s generally just a matter of “square things up and you’ll be fine, otherwise let us know and we’ll let you in (escorted) to get your stuff”.
sounds like a distinct lack of legal process involved. Formal evictions don’t end with the tenant “squaring things up” and moving back in. If you have been through an eviction you know how arduous it is for the landlord. Happening “all the time” – I cant imagine we’re talking about legal evictions.

I’ve been tempted to just leave behind what I don’t need. And I have a lot of junk. But, in my case, little of it is worth anything, and it would be a hassle to get rid of.

But, if I’d moved into an apartment, I can’t imagine having extraneous stuff there. So there’s no way I’d do what your FiL’s (former) tenant did. Doubly so for stuff that I could actually sell, as I’m always hard up for money. Triply so for money itself.

I agree with the idea that what he has may be ill gotten gains. It almost sounds like he fled the state.

In a slightly different vein…

When I retired, my wife and I decided to do what we had never done before…sell all of our personal goods except clothes, linen and kitchen items…and move to a different part of the US where we didn’t know anyone and hadn’t seen very many of the attractions.

Wow! Everyday meant new experiences. Going to a different grocery store, eating in new resturants, new theaters, new friends…very different from our experience over the last 30 years of living in the small rural town where everything was comfortable but “old”

It turned out to be one of the best thing we ever did. New friends, new experiences, new life. And we enjoy going back to that little town to visit friends.

I could literally replace everything I own for a thousand bucks. I have often thought of just leaving all my stuff and moving. I could snap the hard drive out the computer and go.

Twice in my life, I’ve had to start life with next to nothing, so I know how it feels. You get to the point where things don’t mean anything.


I’ve done similar on occasion. Shown up lots of places with nothing but what I was wearing and the bag(s) I was carrying, and left largely the same. I’ve seen guys leave a $400 stereo behind to the first guy to walk around the corner, just because he didn’t want to or was unable to deal with the hassle of bringing it with him. You’d be surprised how quickly un-sentimental an item becomes if you have to lug the damn thing around.

Story time: When I moved to my first apartment on my own, I had been living in a 2BR with a roommate who I thought was the Coolest Kid Ever, until I actually lived with the guy. Soon started to see what an insufferable doucher he was. Suspected he was a sociopath, devoid of any real personality, unstoppable liar, the whole nine. Had also been stealing money from me for a while, first through tricks like going “half” on apartment furniture (“I’ll pay you later”), claiming there had been a rent increase, then later straight out the bank account (I had had bank mail sent to that address). Well at one point homeboy went on a brief vacation, came back the day rent was due, I told him “Sorry Charlie, I’ve already moved out.” Stiffed him with having to come up with a month’s rent in a couple hours. I later found out that that day was actually his birthday.

Of course, in my haste I had to leave a lot behind, like everything in the kitchen, my bed, and so on. I also forgot to have the power turned on in the new place, but that’s another story. The first week in my new apartment I slept in a sleeping bag surrounded by candles, but I didn’t care. It was mine.

I’m actually preparing to do this again, as I’m moving to a foreign country soon and can only take what I’m wearing and the bags I’m carrying…

I don’t know if this counts or not, but I did something very similar six years ago. I sold almost everything I owned barring clothing and my computers. Then I moved from Alaska to Texas for 9 months. The reason? Trying to escape a broken heart.

It doesn’t work, darned thing followed me to Texas. :slight_smile:

When I moved back to Alaska, I had to start completely over. I came back home with almost no job (I did have one university class to teach, I’d called a few months ahead to see if there were any openings in the dept). Other than that, I had almost nothing, teaching pays pretty well, but only one credit isn’t much. To help pay the rent I worked interim and temp jobs. What’s weird is that re-building my life was actually kind of strangely fun, almost “freeing” in a way. Difficult and I was dead-broke most of the time, but fun.

We’re definitely talking about legal evictions – since the point of the thread wasn’t the eviction itself, but the fact this guy just walked away from everything he owned, I simply glossed over the particulars. Yes, they went through the full six-month process, Sherriff lock-out, court-ordered loss of assetts, the whole legal hoop-jump.