Landlord Nightmare: What to Do When a Tenant Disappears?
Do you suspect that your tenant has disappeared?
Do you feel the renter has no intention of coming back to the rental?
As a homeowner, you cannot just go ahead to rent out the property to another tenant.
You need to take the necessary steps before getting new tenants.
Notably, you need to ensure compliance with your state and local laws.
Check these laws concerning tenant disappearances.
This will help you in so many ways.
Firstly, it will make sure you do not do anything unlawful.
Secondly, it will let you know the steps to take for re-renting.
What are the reasons for tenant disappearances?
There are several reasons for tenant disappearance.
One of them involves owing lots of rental payments or other fees.
Sometimes, tenants disappear when they are dealing with an eviction.
Also, they may disappear when facing a legal lease case.
In some cases, the tenant disappearances may involve some dangers.
For instance, tenants may disappear due to kidnapping or death.
Do you suspect your tenant disappeared due to a criminal act?
If yes, you need to speak to the police immediately.
You can easily carry out an abandonment or eviction process.
However, involving the police will secure the possible crime scene.
Mostly, the case of tenant abandonment is quite simple.
The tenants chose to leave without informing the house owners.
If you suspect a case of abandonment, do the following:
Step 1: Ascertain abandonment
Sometimes you may have a reason for assuming abandonment.
Maybe the tenant owes rent or has left the property for a long time.
However, do not make an assumption about abandonment.
There may only be glitches in their communication with you.
In other words, they may intend to return.
Therefore, it is important to be certain they abandoned the rentals.
Ascertaining abandonment will help you satisfy legal requirements.
How can you be certain of abandonment?
Perhaps the tenant left a note to indicate the intention of not returning.
Or someone saw the renter moving out with their belongings.
Or the tenant has been elusive for a very long time.
All of these are not enough reasons.
Meanwhile, the following questions can help you ascertain abandonment:
Does the tenant owe rent?
In some states, if the rent is still on, they will not consider abandonment.
Are the utilities off?
You can call the utility firm about this.
Nevertheless, this is quite tricky.
The utilities may be shut off without intention of abandonment.
Are the tenant’s belongings still in the apartment?
Check if the tenant left any belongings behind.
These may include clothes, personal gadgets, and furniture.
If the belongings are still there, the tenant may still return.
Did the neighbors observe anything important?
Talk to your neighbors as they may observe anything.
They might see the tenant packing their belongings with a truck.
Or the renter told them they were moving out.
If any of these should be the case, abandonment is likely.
Did the tenant change their address at the post office?
After a move-out, most people change their address at the post office.
So, check the local post office to get this information.
What are the emergency contacts of the tenant?
Take a look at the emergency contacts of the tenant.
Speak to the person to get further information.
If you are lucky, they may have information about the renter.
What can you make of these questions?
These are just important questions and tips for landlords.
Nevertheless, they are not individually conclusive.
In other words, you must consider various factors.
Sometimes, tenants leave for a while and return later.
Many situations may warranty an uninformed leave.
These include business trip, hospital stay, extended holiday and jail time.
As long as the lease term is still valid, the property is still legally theirs.
Step 2: Send a notice to the renter
As a property owner, you must ascertain abandonment officially.
Afterward, you can terminate the lease agreement.
Before then, send a notice to the tenant.
Let them know that you think they have abandoned the property.
However, you need to cautious at this stage.
Sometimes, you may want to assume abandonment and move on.
You may just want to clean the unit and get new renters.
But this is dangerous.
You may unlawfully terminate the agreement or remove the tenant.
This can lead to prosecution in the court.
So, it is advisable for you to file an eviction.
Get an attorney who knows the state’s landlord-tenant laws.
Is it possible to just evict a missing renter?
You need to provide evidence that the tenant owes rent for some days.
If you have the evidence, you can do a legal eviction.
The court will send a Pay Rent or Quit Notice.
Typically, the tenant has only 3 to 5 days to make rental payments.
If not, such a renter must move out. Nonetheless, the tenant may not respond at all.
Then, you should file an eviction.
However, there is a common issue with a Pay Rent or Quit Notice.
The renter may not even get the notice within the stipulated time.
Resultantly, the eviction process may not be quick.
Dealing with the lease
In the case of abandonment, you need to handle the lease properly.
Foremost, ensure the lease explains what to do if abandonment occurs.
Ensure the lease terms are in line with your local and state laws.
You can hire an attorney to review the terms.
What happens to the belongings left behind?
The tenants might have also left their belongings behind.
You need to understand your state and local rules regarding this.
Generally, the homeowner will itemize and store the belongings.
Afterward, he will send a notice to the renter about the storage.
However, it is possible that the tenant does not respond for a long period.
In such a case, the property owner can sell off the belongings.
Use the money to pay off storage fees.
If money remains, the landlord should issue it to the state.
How to prevent tenant disappearances
Dealing with tenant disappearance can be nightmarish.
The laws concerning it usually worsen the situation.
So, property owners should try to screen their tenants properly.
This is the best way to prevent tenant disappearance.
Get references from the past landlords of each applicant.
This can help you know if the applicant has a history of abandoning their unit.
Also, look at the criminal background of the applicants.
Avoid people with a history of lawsuits or evictions due to owed rents.
Furthermore, ensure the tenant has a great debt-to-income ratio.
Perhaps you need assistance for any real estate issues, contact Reneza.
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