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Here’s What to Do If Your Tenant Abandons the Property…

Have you ever had a tenant leave in the middle of the night – or the middle of an eviction? Did you ever wonder what to do when the tenant abandons the property?

What to Do When Your Tenant Abandons the Property

Basically, when a tenant abandons the property, you don’t need to file an eviction or wait for the sheriff. You can change the locks.
rental property lease
As for the tenant’s stuff, in some states, you can simply toss it. Check your state or local law to see what your legal obligation is to store the items for the tenant.

It’s important to make sure you have your lease in place and all of your ducks in a row. [For more information on Rental Properties >> click here.]

However…

If you aren’t 100% certain that the tenant has abandoned the property, you should not change the locks.

If you have the keys and your lease allows it, you could enter the premises, but KNOCK FIRST. Whether or not the tenant has abandoned is often a judgment call. Look at a combination of factors, such as:

  • Did the neighbors see them move?
  • Are the utilities shut off?
  • Did the tenant put in a change of address at the post office?
  • Is there any significant furniture left?
  • If you have access, are there sheets on the beds?

Even if the tenant is not sleeping there, they are still “in possession” if they have their personal belongings in the unit and have not shown an intent to abandon these items.

Some states have specific laws regarding PRESUMPTIONS of abandonment. For example, Connecticut law states:

Sec. 47a–11b. Abandonment of unit by occupants. Landlord’s remedies.
(a) For the purposes of this section, “abandonment” means the occupants have vacated the premises without notice to the landlord and do not intend to return, which intention may be evidenced by the removal by the occupants or their agent of substantially all of their possessions and personal effects from the premises and either (1) nonpayment of rent for more than two months or (2) an express statement by the occupants that they do not intend to occupy the premises after a specified date.

If you do intend to claim abandonment, take pictures, gather evidence, and cover all bases to prepare for a possible wrongful lockout claim.
eviction notice
Definitely, give the tenant notice in writing where you have stored their belongings (if you have anything) and give them adequate time to come get it.

If you have ANY doubts, call your landlord-tenant attorney and do the proper legal eviction proceeding.

Or, here’s another possibility…

Cash for Keys

In other words – pay the tenants to leave! If the tenant has NOT abandoned property (or you aren’t sure) or you messed up and they are coming back for their stuff, consider giving “Cash for Keys” to bribe the tenant to give up possession.

While not deserving if they are behind on rent, it’s smart business because you avoid an eviction and possible damage to the property by the tenant.

If you do this, however, make certain you get the tenant to sign a RELEASE OF LIABILITY FORM.  This form, when signed by the tenant, will waive their rights to sue you for ANYTHING (even if you messed up and they have a claim).

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About the Author...

William Bronchick, J.D. is a nationally-known attorney, author, and speaker. He has been practicing law and investing in real estate since 1990 and has been involved in over 2,000 real estate transactions.

Bill has served as President of the Colorado Association of Real Estate Investors since 1996. He is the author of many excellent real estate investing courses.

You can visit Bill Bronchick at his web site: LegalWiz.com

Comments

  1. I loved having the audio portion. It allows me to multitask. But I still have the option of scanning the written portion if necessary.

    Beth

  2. Ted Roxas says:

    The audio is clear and informative.

  3. Benson Juarez says:

    I like the approach of asking your audience / customers for their feedback before investing a bunch of time and money into something. For me it depends on the day. I think sometimes I’m in the mood for reading and some days I’d like to hear the audio. BUT, I have to tell you…the robotic mono-tone voice was a real struggle for me. It was hard to listen to. How often do you put a blog article out? It was only 3 min or so long. How about having someone from the staff read it? Or pay a VA? There’s got to be a cost effective way of creating an audio file that is easy on the ears! Great idea!

  4. John Knuth says:

    It’s ok. Can live with or without it.

  5. Neil Cohen says:

    I would rather ead it

  6. Roger Buchanan says:

    I really like the audio, but also enjoy reading the message.

  7. Sandy Gallant says:

    The audio on my computer is very low…hard to hear. I have to use ear buds/bluetooth. I like audio if I have the time. Mostly I scan read and then come back to read the parts with the most interest. I think having both is a great option. Not everyone likes one or the other. This way you are satisfying the majority.

  8. Nancy says:

    It’s easier to use on the computer than on a phone, but I don’t mind reading it on either.

  9. david berg says:

    l would like both

  10. Michael says:

    It helps to have the audio when you read the text.

  11. Brenda Williams says:

    The audio was clear, the speaker’s voice was pleasant. I liked the audio but I also like to be able to read the information to make sure that I didn’t miss anything and it is easier to take notes from written material.

  12. Jeanne Ekhaml says:

    Thank you, everyone for taking the time to leave your feedback!

  13. Howard Fahey says:

    I suspect it was a computer generated voice, as it was without inflection or emphasis, but it was clearly spoken. Having the speaker along with the printed word would be ideal.

  14. David Rice says:

    Great! AND the subject matter was good also. I really could have used that info 6 mos ago. Like the audio!

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