Thanks very much for acknowledging my input as the answer.
I'll repost it here for the sake of future readers.
Although there was never a landlord/tenant relationship, the simplest
and wisest move, short of retaining legal counsel, would seem to me
to simply comply with the landlord/tenant policies which apply to the
situation, which are designed to protect the rights of all parties.
The pertinent section of the Minnesota Landlord/Tenant Act is:
'504B.271 Tenant's personal property remaining in premises', which
is detailed on this page from ohiolandlordtenant.com:
Violations of 504B.271 which might apply can be found on this
page regarding a case from the MN Attorney General's website:
"A. Failure to Hold Home [property] for 60 Days.
B. Failure to Notify Former Tenant Prior to Resale.
C. Failure to Pay Proceeds or Account to Resident After the Sale.
...[failure] to pay to the resident the proceeds of the sale
or provide a written statement showing the specific reason for
withholding any portions thereof."
Search the page for 504B.271 or the text above for the pertinent
In light of the above and the circumstances you've described, I
think you'd be well within your legal rights to give him notice
via certified mail that he can either reclaim his property or you
will be selling (or reclaiming) them within 60 days and using the
proceeds to reimburse yourself for the cost of 8 months storage.
To be exacting, you could send a list of the inventory, record
the proceeds for each item from its sale, and send him notice
of the amount(s) you deducted (or reclaimed) for the costs of
maintaining and storing the property.
I think it would also be within reason to charge him the going
rate for a self-storage locker in your area, of a size adequate
to hold the property, if that suits your purposes.
Obviously, this is not legal advice, and doesn't cost as much
as legal advice, but it seems to me to be in keeping with the
principles of a law intended to protect the rights of the
parties involved in a more formal arrangement, and to be
suitable for your situation.
Also, see this page, from the MN Attorney General's site,
for a more elaborate discussion of Landlord/Tenant Rights and
Responsiblities - especially the Section 32 on the topic of
"Sixty days after the landlord has either received a notice
of abandonment, or it has become reasonably apparent that
the unit has been abandoned, the landlord may sell or get
rid of the property in whatever way the landlord wishes.
The landlord must make a reasonable effort, however, to
contact the tenant at least two weeks before the sale of
the items, to let the tenant know they are being sold or
disposed of. The landlord must do this either by personally
giving the tenant a written notice of the sale or by sending
the notice by certified mail (return receipt requested) to
the tenant?s last known address or likely living quarters if
that is known by the landlord."
More on the page:
So I would make that certified letter a 2-weeks notice, after
which, if you receive no reply affirming an intention to reclaim
the propery, you can sell the property, following the other
guidelines about notification of the proceeds and the amounts
deducted from the proceeds or reclaimed in property.
If that's good enough to satisfy the formality of a landlord/tenant
relationship, it seems fine to satisfy your more informal arrangement,
and very likely to hold up in court, should it come to that later.
Additional information may be found from an exploration of
the links resulting from the Google searches outlined below.
Searches done, via Google:
landlord "unclaimed property"
minnesota landlord "unclaimed property"
minnesota landlord "abandoned property"
"Landlord Tenant Act" 504B.271