I was in Texas(Houston) and lived at a place where my name isnt on the lease. I had to rush a few places and go back home and my bicycle remained locked to a small corner in the parking spot. My flatmates had a key but didnt give it away and left it there. The manager i heard put some stickers on it for it to be removed. Usually what happens to such cases. They don't know it was my bicycle nor from our apartment.

From what i read online, they will ask the city to take it away and if i dont claim it in a given time they will own it.

I have no problem with that.

Is that how it is?

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    Do your flatmates still live there? Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 23:53
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    As a practical matter it will probably be stolen before it becomes a legal issue.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 16:57
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    Are you concerned about getting your bike back, or are you concerned that you could be charged with some sort of crime (like littering) or are you concerned that you could have a civil liability (like the apartment complex owner could charge you a fee)?
    – Damila
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 18:20

2 Answers 2


I gather that you either a) don't want the bike or b) are physically unable to retrieve it.

You are acting like a spectator here. You ARE involved. By doing nothing, you are creating trouble for others, and failing to create a good. They must go through an extensive process to protect the rights of an owner they don't know who even is.

What you should do, is to send a paper letter to the landlord at that complex.

Dear landlord,

You may have a bicycle at Location Here inside Apartment Complex Name Here.

I am the owner of the bicycle. I had to leave the region, and I had to leave the bicycle behind. I cannot come back and claim it.

Perhaps you know someone who could use a bicycle. Please give the bicycle to them, or dispose of it as you see fit. Here is the key to the lock.

Your name

Why a paper letter? Because you can't email a key! If you sent an email and key separately, they'd get confused. Plus, the signature on paper is legally binding, so they don't have to worry about it being a trick.

Tape the physical key to a piece of paper, to keep it from rattling around and chewing a hole in the envelope. (it could be the paper the letter is written on, note that a printout of a Word document is fine).

Paper letters have gone out of style, I know; you can work out how to send them, but an older person will help you do that faster, since well, we used to do everything that way.

Now if you do want the bicycle, that gets harder. You will have to have one of your roommates give a key to someone who can retrieve it for you and store it for you. And you/they may need to coordinate with the landlord to even get access to it / find out if it's still there. This is probably a waste of your time.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – feetwet
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 15:18
  • I would use a small padded envelope with the key taped to a piece of thin cardboard, and mail it with $1.20 worth of stamps so it can be handled as a 2 ounce flat. The key may exceed the 1/4" max thickness requirement for regular first class letter service. A paper envelope may disqualify it for handling as a flat, and will likely tear when (not if) it is bent. Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 18:12

Abandoned bikes are common in many urban areas, and I'm sure your story is typical. To answer your question as to what is likely to happen: Your bike (or parts of it) may already have been stolen, or will be soon. Or the property owner will have it cut off and disposed of.

I see the earlier advice on mailing the key to the landlord, but as a wrinkle on that, you might try to find a local used-bike shop for your charity, or even, if you're lucky, a charity that provides bikes to needy people. They're more likely to appreciate it, and won't send you a bill for the cleanup work, which might possibly be a risk if you identity yourself to the property owner.

The letter probably ought to make it clear you are transferring title to the recipient, so they don't get caught in legal limbo. Some cities scrutinize used bike shops to prevent trade in stolen bikes. If you ever recorded the serial number, include it in the letter.

As for getting the key duplicated: many bike lock companies charge rather a lot for this, and some don't provide the service at all, in favour of providing a larger number with the lock up-front. Whomever you decide to contact, I'd send them all the keys you have, and be done with it. And every day that passes makes it less likely the bike is still there.

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    Why would one ask the manufacturer to duplicate a key? I know three shops in my city quarter (in Germany) which will duplicate any key you bring to them within minutes for a couple euros. And they don't even ask questions who you are or where you got that key from. Isn't that a thing where you are from?
    – Philipp
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 13:56
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    @Philipp, in my experience many big-brand bike locks are not of the standard-blank pin-tumbler style that corner shops can duplicate on their template grinders. For sure this may vary widely by brand and by market, but good locks will use keys which are uneconomic to duplicate. And this is a different question, but I see no benefit to the OP keeping a key. I believe he's in a position to move on in life and wants to make one good-faith effort to do the right thing.
    – CCTO
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 15:27

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