One thing that a landlord never wants to deal with is an abandoned rental. This is an unpleasant situation that can cause headaches and financial problems. Suddenly, you have a property that is not bringing in any income, has no tenant, might be trashed, and is sitting empty while the monthly expenses still continue to pile on.
There are several things that a landlord must keep in mind in order to make sure that the abandoned rental property is truly abandoned. This will help to protect you from getting into an embarrassing misunderstanding or legal trouble especially if the renter is still there and the property has not been abandoned.
Make sure property is actually abandoned
Do not assume because you have not heard from the tenant and the rent has not been paid that they must have disappeared. You have to verify that the property is abandoned by investigating into the situation. Check and see if the majority of their belongings are gone and only trash is left behind. Verify the utilities are connected.
Check with neighbors to see if the renter has communicated with them or if they have noticed any activity at the property. Get in touch with the emergency contacts on their application. Take the time to figure out if the tenant has left the property or is in trouble, preventing them from returning to your property and/or contacting you.
Do not automatically remove belongings
It is not wise to get rid of any personal belongings left behind by the tenant. Even if the property looks abandoned, the landlord can get in trouble for getting rid of a tenant’s personal belongings. It is best to check with your state to determine the right legal process in removing items from a rental property. Different states will have different rules. For example, some states require you to notify the former tenant and to wait before taking possession of the property. Other states have rules on what to do based on the value of the tenant’s belongings. Seek legal and professional advice before taking action.
Keep records of the progress
As the landlord, you need to keep records and notes on all of the steps taken in determining that a property has been abandoned. You need to prove everything is legal in case the renter tries to sue you. Showing you have done the proper research and followed the proper procedures is very important. With good record keeping, you can then successfully prove that the property was abandoned.
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