As a property manager, there are new obstacles to face quite frequently. One obstacle that can be frustrating is when a tenant decides to abandon the property. Property managers need to oversee residents moving in and out, but what happens when someone just leaves? Normally, landlords have notice that a tenant is planning to move out, allowing them time to work on cleaning and repairing the property before the next renters move in. However, there are situations when people struggle to pay rent and just cannot seem to make ends meet. If you find yourself in a position of having a vacant property, here is what to do if the tenant abandons property without notice.
What Does the Lease Say?
Before you can do anything about them leaving, you need to make sure you know what is in the lease agreement. Some tenants can leave because there is not a clause stating they cannot leave. Find out what it says pertaining to abandonment in the lease to know your legal rights. Legally, the situation needs to be outlined properly in order to do anything related to rent collection and court filing. Some residents will clean out the property and leave the keys. Other tenants will leave some personal belongings on the property, and even walk away with the keys. It is important to have a clause in your rental agreements that discuss this situation and how you want to handle it if this does occur.
Do Some Research
It helps to do some investigation to find out what happened. There are some people that simply cannot make ends meet so they leave in the middle of the night. If someone leaves and hasn’t paid rent, you cannot simply open the property and start cleaning it out. By law, you are required to provide a 3-day notice and an abandonment notice. Call the numbers in their rental agreement and check around to see if they have left their vehicles there. Do all you can to get in touch with them prior to taking additional action. Here are some things to check on that might indicate if they have abandoned the property or not:
- Utilities are shut off
- Neighbors saw them move out
- Furniture has been removed from the property
- A change of address request has been filed
You need to be careful when determining if the property has been abandoned. If the property looks as though they are still living in it, they could be in a hospital or dealing with other things. As long as they continue to pay rent, you should not assume they have abandoned the property.
Declare the Property Abandoned
If you feel the property has been abandoned, you can declare the property abandoned. It is important to issue a public notice prior to declaring the property abandoned. Most states do require you to hold onto any personal belongings of a tenant or it could lead to legal ramifications.
The process of dealing with a property after someone moves out can be difficult. It is important to have clear documentation of everything that transpires in the event you do face legal consequences. Take pictures and videos of the property and discuss what happened. Keep your rental property agreement information as well to help simplify the process.
Change the Locks
If the property is abandoned, you can change the locks. The best thing you can do in this situation is trying to avoid having any of the tenant’s stuff left inside the property stolen. Changing the locks also helps to prevent having the tenant come back and use the property while you are gone and they have legally abandoned the property.
If you have given the tenant notice, and you have not received any communication back, you are taking the right precautions to determine what to do if a tenant abandons the property. Hiring a property management firm in Chicago North is a great way to avoid dealing with such issues. Property management firms like Keyrenter specialize in handling all property management related issues including property abandonment and evictions. For more information and assistance with abandoned properties, call Keyrenter today!