Podcast Episode 3—How Does a Commercial Landlord Dispose of Former Tenant’s Property?
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Podcast Episode Timestamps
00:00 — Topic
00:31 — The fact pattern
01:18 — Texas statute governing commercial tenancies
01:32 — The rules pertaining to landlord disposing of the former commercial tenant’s property following abandonment.
01:58 — Brief definition of hearsay
02:05 — Analysis of the fact pattern; testimonial evidence to prove sending the certified mail
02:21 — Imaginary court room battle about hearsay and whether testimonial evidence should be permitted to prove sending the required certified letter
03:15 — Where to find my YouTube video with a much more in depth (rambling) analysis of the situation
03:45 — Where to find other Keith Law, PLLC Podcast episodes and related blog posts
04:05 — What to do if you have any questions
04:20 — Outro
Your commercial tenant abandoned the building; then you sold the building which was demolished by the buyer. Although you sent the required certified mail to your former tenant advising that the remaining property would be disposed of, you no longer have proof that you sent the certified mail. Now the tenant pops up claiming you wrongfully disposed of their property and that they are going to sue you if you don’t pay.
So, Should You Pay?
No, you shouldn’t necessarily settle based on the bare demand of your former tenant. Even if the tenant does sue, the landlord is not necessarily going to lose.
Chapter 93 of the Texas Property Code governs commercial tenancies. Section 93.002 (e) permits a landlord to remove and store a tenant’s remaining property after abandonment. After 60 days of storage, the landlord can dispose of the property—but the landlord must provide a 60-day warning via certified mail.
For the following section, you will need to know that “hearsay,” generally, is an out of court statement used to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the out of court statement.
What Happens if You Lose Your Proof of the Certified Mail?
If the former tenant sues and claims you failed to send the required certified mail, you may be able to testify that you sent it. But the former tenant’s lawyer may object to the testimony as hearsay. Your lawyer may effectively avoid this hearsay objection by arguing that the testimony is not to prove any matters asserted in the certified mail, but simply to prove that you performed the statutorily required action. This might be referred to as a “legally operative fact.”
To dispose of a former tenants property after the tenant abandoned the property, the commercial landlord must send certified mail warning that the landlord may dispose of former tenant’s property within 60 days after the date the property is stored. Keep proof of the letter. But, if you lose it, all is not necessarily lost.
Here is a YouTube video that goes into more detail (or rambling) about this specific situation.
Disclaimer: This audio, video, and blog post are for informational purposes only and should not be misinterpreted as legal or other professional advice. If you have a legal question, you should consult with an attorney in your jurisdiction. Thank you for tuning in to Keith Law, PLLC.