What to do with the left-behind couch?

Question: We rented an unfurnished Tempe rental home to a nice ASU student for the ASU school year. At the end of the ASU school year, the tenant called us and said that he would be moving out the following Tuesday. We then met the tenant on that Tuesday for the final walkthrough. Everything was fine, so we returned the $1,500 security deposit back to the tenant, and the tenant gave us the keys to the home. There was a leather couch in good condition still in the living room. The tenant said that he gave the leather couch to his brother who would be picking up the leather couch at 2:00 p.m. the next day, which was fine with us because we were painting both bedrooms the next day. The brother never showed, and a week later the leather couch is still in the living room. Our former tenant’s phone number has been disconnected. We never got the phone number or even the name of the brother. A friend of ours in real estate says that we now have to follow the statutory procedure to dispose of the leather couch. This statutory procedure basically requires notice by certified mail to the former tenant, storing the leather couch for 14 days, and then selling the leather couch or donating the leather couch to a charity. Is that correct?

Answer: No. Your real estate friend is talking about the Arizona statutory procedure for “abandoned” property, i.e., personal property left behind by the tenant after the tenant moved out without notice to the landlord and when rent is still owed. If the landlord and tenant have done a move-out inspection and the tenant has returned the keys to the landlord, however, any personal property that is left behind by the tenant is not abandoned property. Therefore, you can now immediately sell and dispose of this personal property, e.g., the leather couch. A.R.S. §33-1370(I).

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