Can I Dispose of My Ex’s Things?

Many romantic relationships end in acrimony, and loose ends are often left untied in the emotional upheaval that follows a break-up.  I often get asked whether it’s alright to dispose of the items and possessions that have been left behind by an Ex, once the relationship has ended and he or she has moved out.

The short answer is: “No.”   Or at least not without taking certain steps first.

It’s understandable that for practical and emotional reasons you may want to quickly get rid of anything that is left behind once the split is final and your Ex moves out.   Unfortunately, the law does not allow you to precipitously and unilaterally toss out his or her belongings.

Rather, you must give your Ex reasonable notice that you intend to get rid of his or her belongings, and you must provide sufficient opportunity for him or her to make arrangements to come retrieve them. In fact, if you fail to give your Ex this opportunity, you may actually become legally liable for the reasonable replacement costs of the items you disposed of.

A better approach, therefore, is to give your Ex notice in writing, advising of specific times during which the items can be picked up, and then being reasonably accommodating and co-operative in making pick-up possible.   The notice should also clearly state that if the items are not retrieved at the designated time, then they will be disposed of (or, better yet, donated).  

If, after taking these steps, your Ex has still not come for the items, then you can go ahead and dispose of them in a reasonable manner.   In such cases it is important that you retain copies of not only the written notice you gave your Ex, but also any donation receipts that you may have received, for Canada Revenue Agency purposes.

If you are newly-separated from your Ex and have questions about your rights and what the next steps will be, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.

Shulman Law Firm is a Toronto-area firm of experienced Family Lawyers who can provide practical advice and effective representation relating to the steps and processes involved in separating and getting divorced in Ontario.

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