Stuff left behind by previous occupier - who legally owns it?

If someone moves out of a property we legally own and leaves behind furniture and packed boxes etc, who legally owns them? Can we dispose of them as we see fit (charity etc) or do we have to return it to them? Honest legal advice gratefully received

Was this a Sale or Rental situation ??

To be sure of where you stand… I would suggest asking a Notaire.
They will be able to advise you on how to proceed… legally.


Wise words. And get it in writing with the items identified - tedious I know, but then it won’t come back later to bite you when they realise they do want XYZ after all and take you to court for it.

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This is France… so looks like there are processes to follow, link below plus link to cerfa form for tribunal.

But how much is there and what sort of value? As other articles suggest that if small value as long as you have sent the owner an inventory and a request to remove them by X date and have proof of this , if need be via a hussier, then you are free to dispose of them.

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When we bought our current house we insisted that it was left completely empty to save any future arguments.


Very helpful indeed. Thank you for taking the time to reply and share the links

Thank you.

Thank you

Excellent idea

At what point did your insistance ‘kick in’? How did you frame a timetable and m.o. that the sellers were obliged to abide by? How was your insistance backed up/given teeth?

In my case, three brothers of retirement age who presumably have homes of their own with stuff they have accumulated over the years, and caves full of junk, have inherited the complete contents of their late parents’ house - including a cave full of junk

It’s all the more important to get the place cleared by the sellers because access to the property is difficult, in terms of carting stuff off the premises any larger than a medium sized cardboard box .

Simple, we made it clear to the estate agent and Notaire that we wouldn’t sign the Acte de Vente until the house was cleared out.

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Have a vide maison? Make some money. Keep anything you find that looks interesting. I’ve always envied Dick & Angel and the fact that their chateau wasn’t cleared and they keep finding all these treasures.

Nice thought @SuePJ but stuff left behind in a chateau is likely to be of a different order of value/interest from the stuff in ‘my’ house.

I have been jilling about long enough that I just want to get my stuff in and start living my life again. Let the owners of the things have a vide maison before I get there. I’d wager most of it would still remain, needing to be dechetterised.

@tim17 , thanks. That’s the ‘100% out’ m.o. I am making things a bit more difficult for myself in that there are a few bits I would like to buy from them - the lawn mower, two beds, the fridge…

Easy enough to hire some local labour either to put all the stuff in one area and you live in the place till you can have a closer look and decide if anything worth keeping. I wouldn’t lose the sale on a property I want because of this.

In worst case just bring in a couple of local guys pay them a flat day rate to clear. If you put it on your tax return, if you could be bothered, and do it the right way it even comes off your tax as household services next year.

Oh! No chance of that! Depost paid, cooling off period over, note from notaire, “Got your file. We’re on your case…”

Tax! :anguished: One of Mark Twain’s great one-liners [he excelled in them] was, “The only thing worse than paying tax is not paying tax”. I don’t pay tax … :roll_eyes:

But as I think @AngelaR was implying, she got a ‘rebate/refund’ on not-tax. So that would be OK. Being paid by the FR Treasury to hire people to clear junk from my gaff.

I don’t s’pose it works like that, tho’

I would like to arrange my move to be as grunt-free for me as possible.

My stuff is in storage in Spain. I have a van. I have to get to UK to retrieve it - now reasonably do-able - get fab @fabien to insure it, get @Mark_Rimmer to re-reg it - if these things are even possible with this vehicle - schlep down to Valencia, load up, back to FR, put it in ‘Resotainer’ in Caen.

And then hire a déménagement mob to do the hard bit - unload out of ‘Resotainer’ and hump it up the steps into the house.

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That table and chairs look interesting - crying out to be shabby-chiced :grin:

What’s that?

Would seem a shame to mess about with this table. Not my thing but it looks rather fine. My mother would have loved those chairs. restoration of upholstry was one of her passions.

She was so good at it that an antique restoration workshop [Heron Antiques of Wells, Som] took her on as their upholsterer - but she refused ever to take payment. Just like her flower arranging [Wells Cathedral, The Bishop’s Palace] it was a hobby. One does not take money for a hobby.


I have an identical table which I bought in a depot vente here and used at my house in the UK for many years. If you do end up with any furniture, you could try using a depot vente. Lots of Brits come over with vans from the UK, load up with things from depot ventes and take them back :smiley:

Quite a few did this to sell stuff - not any more.