An Abandoned Rental Property: Can A Landlord Take Possession?
An Abandoned Rental Property:
Yes, a landlord can take possession of the abandoned property.
Therefore, this leads to the real question.
How can a landlord take over an abandoned rental property?
Normally, you and your tenant must have signed a leased agreement at the start of the tenancy.
However, the renter may not stay until the end of the term.
Many factors could be responsible for this:
- They may not be able to afford the rent again
- The renter may get a better job elsewhere
- They may be in prison
- The tenant may be in the hospital
So, it is possible for a tenant to leave your property without informing you.
Resultantly, there is an abandoned property for you to deal with.
Truthfully, having an abandoned property is quite unpleasant.
Foremost, you may have to forgo some rents.
Basically, it is possible for you to sue your ex-tenant to get the rent.
However, you may not even find the ex-tenant at all.
Therefore, there is nobody to sue.
Furthermore, having an abandoned property makes the property prone to certain vices.
These vices include vandals, squatters, fire, and water damage.
Extended Absences by Tenant
Keeping a clause in your lease to determine what happens to an abandoned property may help you.
A suitable name for such clause is “Extended Absences by Tenant”.
It says a renter must inform the landlord if they will be absent from the property for a certain period.
During the period of absence, the landlord has access to the property.
This is to ensure that they can inspect, maintain and repair it.
Therefore, you can take possession of your abandoned premises.
However, you cannot just throw away the properties of your ex-tenants.
Why is this not possible?
In some cases, the absent tenant might have the intention of coming back to the premises.
Therefore, any unreasonable possession of the property could be a wrongful eviction.
As a consequence, the court may ask you to pay damages.
You definitely want to avoid such a situation.
What to do when you think your property has been abandoned?
Verify if the tenant truly abandoned the property
Absenteeism from your property for some days is not enough to assume an abandonment.
Sometimes, the tenant may return after absenteeism for an extended period.
So, do not assume your tenant abandoned the property.
Make your findings and establish the fact.
Check out the following ways to determine this:
1. Your tenant still pays rent
Is your renter still paying rent despite being absent for an extended period?
If yes, the tenant did not abandon the property. You are better off contacting the tenant.
Try to understand what is going on with them.
Sometimes, they might just be away for a long while.
In such a situation, inform them about the need to check and maintain the property.
Let them know the danger of leaving property unattended to.
Nevertheless, if the tenants are no more paying rents, they might have left permanently.
2. Get in touch with emergency contacts
Obviously, there are emergency contacts on your application form that the tenant signed.
You should contact them during this period.
Inform them about your concerns.
Also, inquire if they know the whereabouts of your tenants.
They might inform you they moved out already.
3. Inquire from the neighbours
If your tenants moved out, the neighbours may see them while doing so.
Therefore, asking the neighbours might be helpful.
4. Confirm if the utilities are off
Send a 24-hours’ notice to your renter.
Use the notice to inform them about your proposed inspection.
If the tenant responds, ask them about their whereabouts.
However, it is possible that you will get no response.
In such a situation, go into the property and look at the utilities.
If you notice the utilities are off, the tenant might have abandoned the property.
5. Look at the old food and garbage
So, there should be signs of foods that your tenants ate recently.
Nonetheless, if you only saw rotten foods and old garbage, the property is likely abandoned.
Steps to take on personal belongings in an abandoned property?
You may find furniture, clothing and other valuables in the abandoned property.
These may be signs that the tenant did not abandon the property.
However, there is no guarantee.
Due to this uncertainty, try to contact the renter.
Inform them to come and pick up their personal belonging by a stipulated date.
Let them know you will donate, dispose or keep the belongings if they do not come.
What to do after confirming abandonment of your property?
Sometimes, all signs mentioned above might suggest your tenant abandoned your property.
You might be able to confirm the abandonment of your property.
In that case, you should do the following:
Send a letter
Send a letter to your renter.
The letter should inform them that they must respond within 10 days.
Their response is to confirm whether they moved out already or not.
If the renter fails to respond, you should declare the property as an abandoned one.
Take pictures of the property
Take pictures of the unit.
Focus on the overgrown lawn, unpaid utilities, lack of furniture and so on.
These serve as proofs that they abandoned the property.
Record and describe the occurrence
Record why you feel the property is abandoned.
This should include failure to pay rent or turning off of the utilities.
Ensure to document the date of the payment of the last rent.
Document your conversations with the emergency contacts or neighbours
As recommended, speak to emergency contacts and neighbours.
So, make sure that you document all conversations with them.
Utilize USPS certified mail
When sending messages to your tenant, make sure you utilize certified mail.
This is to have evidence of contacting them.
As stated earlier, it is not easy to deal with abandoned property.
But if you find yourself in such a situation, you need to act on time.
Acting promptly will lower your loses and ensure you take possession of your property.
However, avoid making any mistake; ensure you do it rightly and legitimately.
Finally, try to include an abandonment clause in your lease agreement.
This helps you address issues related to an abandoned property.
Reneza can proffer you solutions when dealing with property abandonment.
Also, we can offer you other real estate assistance.
Speak to us now and let’s help you.