I rented out my basement apartment, and the Jewish tenant bought a new oven. They eventually moved out, leaving the oven. Obviously it’s not like they forgot it there, but do I need to contact them (I’d prefer not to) to get reshus before making use of it or letting another tenant use it?
Similarly, I had a (Jewish) contractor do work at my house, and afterward I found a step ladder. I don’t know if it belongs to the contractor, or another one of the many workers we’ve had in our house. I recall that I texted the contractor at some point to let him know that he or his workers left some things, but I’m not sure if I mentioned the ladder. Either way I never heard back from him. Can I use or discard the ladder and other things that were left?
Answer from Horav Y. Fleishman shlit”a
You cannot just start using the things. You don’t have store the things either. You must ask him or you can inform him that he should take his things and if not you will put them outside.
For the future write in your rental contract that any item left behind will be disposed of at your discretion. Then you can do whatever you want.
See Choshen Mishpot siman 319.