How to Deal with Items Left Behind by Sellers in Your New San Jose Home

How to Deal with Items Left Behind by Sellers in Your New San Jose Home

Moving into a new home in San Jose is an exciting milestone, but it can quickly turn into a nightmare if you discover that the previous owners have left behind a house full of junk. Dealing with abandoned items can be frustrating and time-consuming, but there are steps you can take to handle the situation effectively. In this guide, we’ll explore strategies to avoid this issue in the first place, what to do if you find yourself facing a house full of the previous owner’s belongings, and how to make the most of what’s left behind.

How to Avoid Items Left Behind

The best way to prevent the problem of sellers leaving items behind is to include specific provisions in your Residential Purchase Agreement. While there isn’t a standard clause that addresses this scenario, you can work with your real estate agent to ensure that your contract stipulates that the seller’s personal belongings and any garbage must be removed from the property by a certain date.

To protect your interests, consider including the following provisions in your contract:

  1. Clear Deadline for Removal: Specify a deadline for the seller to remove all their belongings from the property. This deadline should be before your scheduled closing or moving date to avoid any delays or inconveniences.
  2. Ownership of Abandoned Items: Outline in the contract that any items left behind by the seller become the property of the buyer. This provision will give you the authority to dispose of those items as you see fit.
  3. Deduction from Sale Proceeds: Consider allocating an agreed-upon amount of money that will be deducted from the sale proceeds to cover the cost of removing the abandoned items. This ensures that the responsibility of cleaning up the property doesn’t fall solely on you.
  4. Penalty Provision: If the seller fails to remove their belongings within the specified timeframe, you may include a penalty provision in the contract. This provision could entitle you to monetary damages for any inconvenience or costs incurred due to the seller’s failure to comply.

Completing a thorough walkthrough with your agent before becoming the new owner is crucial. Use this opportunity to ensure that the house is empty and move-in ready. Open all cabinets, drawers, closets, and storage spaces to check for any remaining items. Document anything that shouldn’t be there by taking photos, which can serve as evidence if needed. If you find any belongings left behind, immediately inform the seller or their agent and request their prompt removal.

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Dealing with Left-Behind Belongings

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having your new San Jose home filled with the previous owner’s junk, there are several ways you can handle the problem:

  1. Contact the Seller: As the new owner, you have the right to dispose of the abandoned items as you wish. However, if you prefer to resolve the issue amicably with the seller, you can contact them and inform them about the belongings left behind. Sellers who accidentally forgot their items may agree to pick them up.
  2. Exercise Caution: Be cautious when dealing with vague promises or arrangements from the seller, especially if they intentionally left their debris behind. If the seller promises to retrieve their belongings at a later date, document the items with photographs, get an estimate for their removal, and send it to the seller for payment.
  3. Consult an Attorney: If the seller refuses to pick up their belongings or pay for their removal, consult with a real estate attorney to understand the legal options available to you. They can provide guidance based on state and local regulations and help you navigate the process.
  4. Consider Donating or Keeping Useful Items: If you find valuable or functional items among the abandoned belongings, you may choose to keep them or donate them to local charities or organizations. This can be a way to make the most of what the previous owner left behind and save on the costs of purchasing new items.
  5. Hire a Junk Removal Company: If the items left behind are worthless, damaged, or broken, your best option is to hire a professional junk removal company. They specialize in hauling away trash, furniture, and other unwanted clutter, allowing you to start unpacking and settling into your new home without the burden of someone else’s belongings.

Remember, the process of resolving this issue may take time, and there are no guarantees of reimbursement or successful legal action. It’s essential to assess the value and feasibility of pursuing legal remedies based on the specific circumstances and the cost involved.

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Making the Most of Left-Behind Items

While dealing with abandoned belongings can be a hassle, there’s a possibility that you may find useful items among the clutter. If you’re motivated to make the most of what the previous owner left behind, consider the following options:

  1. Furniture and Home Decor: If the previous owner left behind functional furniture and home decor, you can save money by incorporating these items into your new home. San Jose is known for its diverse neighborhoods, and adding unique pieces to your interior can enhance its character.
  2. Kitchenware and Appliances: Check if there are any usable kitchenware or appliances among the abandoned items. This can be especially helpful if you’ve incurred significant upfront costs in purchasing your new home. San Jose is a hub of culinary diversity, and having functional kitchenware can inspire you to explore local cuisine or entertain guests.
  3. Donations to Local Charities: If you find clothing, books, or other items in good condition among the abandoned belongings, consider donating them to local charity shops or organizations. This way, you can help support the San Jose community and make a positive impact.
  4. Sell or Discard Unwanted Items: If the abandoned items hold no value or are beyond repair, your best option is to sell or discard them. Online marketplaces, such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, can be useful for selling unwanted items. Local recycling centers or garbage disposal services can help you properly dispose of items that are no longer usable.

By making the most of what the previous owner left behind, you can minimize waste, save money, and contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle in San Jose.


Dealing with items left behind by sellers in your new San Jose home can be frustrating, but with careful planning and proactive measures, you can avoid this issue altogether. Including specific provisions in your purchase agreement and conducting a thorough walkthrough before closing can help prevent sellers from leaving their belongings behind.

If you do find yourself faced with a house full of abandoned items, explore various options for resolution, such as contacting the seller, consulting an attorney, or hiring a junk removal company. Finally, by making the most of what’s left behind, you can save money, reduce waste, and settle into your new San Jose home with peace of mind.

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About the Author
Seb Frey helps long-time Bay Area homeowners make their next move easily the next one yet. If you're looking for a minimum of hassle, maximum net cash on sale, and certain results, contact Seb today.