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My friend refuses to reclaim his Items


Rabbi Elchanan Lewis

Kislev 19, 5769
A friend left some items in my basement and later made excuses to leave even more items in my house and shed because she is looking for a new house. She does have a two bedroom apartment, the use of a garage and two large storage units. It has been 3 years and I finally wrote to ask that she remove her belongings from my property. She was upset that a flower pot of hers was broken in my yard and accused me of selling or giving away her things. I told her that it was time for her to take responsibility for her own belongings. I offered to help catalog them and move them into her storage units but she has not accepted, nor will she talk about solutions other than me keeping her things here. She insists that I am borrowing her things and thinks that she is doing me a favor by leaving them here. I am not using anything but a printer/scanner and I offered to buy that from her or replace the ink cartridges if she wants to keep it. I am very uncomfortable with this situation and would like to have it resolved fairly. She has not found an acceptable house nor is she likely to in the near future. At this point she is more likely to lose a friend. A painting and flooring contractor are scheduled to begin work in my small house and I cannot assure the safety of her things. The items also complicate putting in the floor and add cost to the project. The flooring contractor suggested that I move her things into storage and give her the keys and the bill after an initial payment. Is that an equitable solution? I am not jewish but my friend is. I read your response to a similar case in the archives at and I would appreciate your opinion.
She should appreciate your generosity so far and take her belongings from now on as you request. Strictly speaking you can tell her to take her things or else you will dispose them. You can take her to court as well, [even though Jews sue Jews in a rabbinic court, as you write, you are not] This however is the last resort and it will always be better to talk it through and try to sort it out in a good way agreed by both of you.
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