Property Management Tips – What to Do When Your Tenant Abandons Their Property

There’s no doubt that owning rental properties can be an adventure, especially when your tenant abandons or leaves property behind after they move out. If this has happened to you recently, here are several tips you can use for dealing with their abandoned property.

Tip #1 – Determine That the Tenant Has Moved Out

Before taking steps to deal with your tenant’s abandoned property, you should make every effort to determine that they have moved out.

Obviously, if the tenant gave you a 30-day notice then it’s likely that they have moved out in accordance with their notice but it’s possible that they may have left abruptly and you will have to legally determine that they’ve moved.

To verify that your tenant has moved out you will have to go through the court system and file a “Notice of Belief of Abandonment”.

This notice can be served either in person or by mail and the tenant has up to 18 days (California) to answer it. If they have not answered this notice within this time frame then you can move the belongings out of your tenant’s rental and rent the property to another tenant.

Tip #2 – Store Their Belongings

After moving your tenant’s belongings out of their rental property, it’s best to store everything in a storage unit.

Instead of cleaning out their belongings yourself, it’s best to hire a neutral (3rd party) to clear out the rental unit because you don’t want to be accused of stealing if your former tenant contacts you with claims that some of their belongings are missing after they pick them up.

Take pictures of the items then give them one week to contact you to pick up their items. If they are not answering their cell phone, or it’s been disconnected, you can still find your former tenant by calling their references and mailing the pictures to their address because they may already have a forwarding address set up for receiving mail.

Always remember to create a paper trail when dealing with abandoned property, this way you can have records to back up any calls that you made or other efforts to contact your former tenant regarding their property.

If your former tenant contacts you regarding picking up their belongings, you will want to charge them a fee for storing their personal items because you’ve taken the time and effort to deal with those items even if they didn’t want to.

Tip #3 – Sell or Donate Their Items If They Don’t Contact You

Let’s say that your former tenant doesn’t respond to you within one to two weeks after abandoning their personal items.

In this case, you can move forward with confidence that you did your best to reach out to them and were unsuccessful.

Once again, you should document all of the steps that you took to contact them regarding their property then move forward with selling or donating their property if they don’t respond to you.

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