Possession,property and the law

If somebody leaves their possesions in your house, beyond a time agreed upon, can you sell it?

I’m in this position right now. Me and another person, whom I shall call Bob, had a verbal agreement that I would store the stuff for a short period (which is long over) in exchange for a small sum of money. The money never appeared and now Bob has left the state apparently to return in a few months.
I’m not happy about having the stuff in my house. I guess that I have every right to toss it on the street, but can I sell it?

I imagine there are different laws for different states but if someone knows a precedent for one state that might suffice.

Here in Massachusetts, landlords who lock-out tenants for non-payment must store their goods for six months before they can sell them at a public auction. The money is used to pay the debt and storage fees. The balance (if any) belongs to the original owner.

To cover your butt, send Bob a certified letter telling him to pay or you’ll sell the stuff to get rid of it.

I am not a lawyer, but…
I had a situation where a contractor left his non-functioning concrete mixer in my yard long after the work was completed. I called the lawyer who advertises on the back cover of the yellow pages (Free Consultation! NO money down! Lionel Hutz, esq.!) and asked him if I would be within my rights to sell it or have it disposed of.
He told me that I would need to send a certified letter to the contractor explaining my intentions and then give him a reasonable amount of time to reply (something along the order of ninety days, IIRC.) HOWEVER, he said, that still doesn’t make it legal to sell his stuff because the contractor could always claim that the work was unfinished and he was going to return to use it again (the contract was never closed). The certified letter would only be to help support my case if it went to court.
I live in NJ, so be sure to contact a lawyer in your state.

Thanks, I’ve got a pretty good idea of how to take appropriate action. I doubt the stuff will get sold, but I will have some bargaining power to know that there is probably some legal framework for me to sell it.

Resurrecting the thread, because I’m in this same basic position. Except we’re holding the stuff for one of my wife’s friends, and have no way of getting in touch with him. (If you ask me, we’d have a good shot by calling around to area homeless shelters & prisons, but since nobody asked …) We haven’t heard from the guy in several months, & there’s noplace to send a certified letter to. Not that he’d have the resources to sue us anyway, but still. Any idea what my legal obligations might be? I have an address for his next-of-kin, would sending a letter there be adequate? (Yeah, I know, contact a lawyer-I’m still interested in the thoughts of the teeming millions.)