One of the trickiest issues for a landlord is determining that they are dealing with an abandoned rental property. Has their tenant officially abandoned the property?
Abandoned rental property starts with the premise that an active lease is in place with ongoing contractual terms to be honored by both parties. Sometimes, the tenant has stopped paying rent, moving the landlord to pursue collection. There is still a lease in place though with protections for both parties.
A tenant who has been ordered to pay or quit (move out) of a property may leave the home with personal property. Or maybe they are still coming back to finish removing items? Since they no longer take your calls, it is a little tricky to know if the rental property is abandoned.
Before making a final decision on the status of the rental, consider the following clues.
Even if all signs still point to the property being occupied, a clear definition of abandoned previously agreed to with the tenant, might make it easier.
Here is an example of how WILMOTH Group defines abandonment in our lease.
ABANDONMENT: If Tenant abandons the Premises or any personal property during the term of this
Lease, Owner may at its option enter the Premises by any legal means without liability to Tenant and
may at Owner’s option terminate the Lease.
Abandonment is defined as absence of the Tenants from the premises, for at least fifteen (15) consecutive days without notice to Owner. If Tenant abandons the premises while the rent is outstanding for more than 15 days and there is no reasonable evidence, other than the presence of the Tenants’ personal property, that the Tenant is occupying the unit, Owner may at Owner’s option terminate this agreement and regain possession in the manner prescribed by law. Owner will dispose of all abandoned personal property on the Premises in any manner allowed by law.
Be careful to know exactly what your state's law requires when it comes to disposal of personal property. It is usually not just allowed to be sent to a junk man. Some hold time and possible postings are usually required if property is determined to exceed a certain stated value.
This is why the WILMOTH abandonment clause is limited to taking any and all actions allowed by law. You need to know those rules before taking action.
Do This If Tenants Are In Contact
Be sure and document everything just in case you ever have to defend your actions.
The one, most important lesson to take from this post is to be careful. Don't assume you have an abandoned rental property.
WILMOTH Group is headquartered in Indianapolis and Fort Myers, Fla. WILMOTH Group focuses on providing creative local solutions for a variety of residential real estate needs including, properties for sale, property management services in Indianapolis, and short-term management services in Tampa and Fort Myers.
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