Tenant Abandonment Guide for Landlords

Being a landlord comes with many commitments and responsibilities. It can also be quite a risky endeavor as cases where tenants pack up and leave without any notice can happen. Therefore, it’s important to be prepared if a “bad tenant” scenario happens to you. To help you, we’ve prepared a detailed tenant abandonment guide. By knowing how to react and what to do in this situation, you will be able to handle it in a less stressful way.

Keep in mind that it’s very important to find ways to prevent this from happening to you. Nowadays, there is the option of using property management software like RentRedi to help you manage all aspects of your property easily. Also, it will improve the communication with your tenants and positively influence your relationship.

Tenant abandonment—what does it mean?

To find ways to prevent this, first, you need to know what the term “tenant abandonment” actually means. Tenant abandonment is when a renter leaves the premises without a 30 days notice and before their lease has ended.

In most cases, this also means that the tenants left in a hurry and thus left some of their belongings as well as unpaid rent. This can create a serious problem for any landlord, given that consistent rent payments are crucial for their rental business.

A lease agreement with two pens on top of it and a word agreement spelled with wooden blocks.
Make sure to include terms about tenant abandonment in your lease agreement.

For that reason, it’s crucial to specify tenant abandonment terms in your lease agreement.

Explain the process that will happen in case the tenant abandons the property. Also, you should determine how long the tenants have to reclaim the belongings they’ve left behind.

Why do tenants abandon their rentals?

Even though it might seem strange and inconceivable to you, there are many reasons why tenants decide to abandon their rental. Here are the three most common ones:

  • Moving for a new job
  • Inability to pay rent
  • Medical or any other emergency

To avoid this scenario, it’s important to first try & communicate with your tenants. For instance, if you keep an open line of communication, they might let you know they’re late with rent. They will also be more likely to work on a solution that is beneficial for both parties.

Tenant Abandonment Fuide

If a situation like this happens to you, you’ll probably want to find new tenants and fill your property as soon as possible. However, you mustn’t rush. You need to follow the proper procedures in place for situations like this. You can learn all about them further in our detailed tenant abandonment guide.

Determine if the property has been abandoned

The first step in this process is determining if your property has actually been abandoned. You need to be sure that your tenant didn’t leave with the intention of coming back. Perhaps, they simply weren’t familiar with the tenant abandonment rules from your lease agreement.

Before writing any eviction notices or filing any wrongful claims, you need to be sure your tenant is not coming back. To know you’re dealing with tenant abandonment, you need to understand the clues tenants left behind.

Try to get in touch with their emergency contacts

If you notice your tenants haven’t been on the property for a while and you’re getting concerned, try getting in touch with their emergency contacts. Make sure to explain the situation as well as your lease provisions. Hopefully, they’ll be able to get in touch with your tenant and help you resolve the problem.

Check if your tenant is still paying rent

If your tenant is still paying rent, there is a big chance your property hasn’t been abandoned. Therefore, check your bank statements. In case you use a landlord app, then checking if your tenant has been paying rent is even easier.

A woman looking at her phone and reading a tenant abandonment guide.
A good way to easily manage your property is to install a landlord app like RentRedi.

Your tenant could be on vacation or staying somewhere else. Try to get in touch with them to check what’s going on. Also, you might want to inform them that you’ll be checking up on the property in their absence. You need to make sure everything is okay and, most importantly, safe.

Check if the utilities are on

Always have in mind that you need to give your tenants a 24-hour notice in order to enter a property. If that time has passed and you haven’t heard back from them, you can enter the property and check if the utilities are still on. If the water or heat has been turned off, it means that the tenants either didn’t pay their bill or have shut the utilities off.

Talk to neighbors

Sometimes neighbors can be the best source of information about your tenant. They can give you insights that will help you determine if the property has been abandoned. For instance, they might have seen your tenant moving out.

Dealing with the tenant abandonment

Once you know for sure that your property has been abandoned, there are several steps you should follow:

  • Research your landlord-tenant state laws and local tenant abandonment guides for the legal process moving forward. It’s not uncommon for specific provisions to exist for different regions, especially regarding time limits. It’s important to know legal requirements and what’s expected of you.
  • Next, you should take inventory and itemize the tenant’s belongings. A good idea is to take pictures, too. You want to have as much documentation backing you up.
  • The next thing you’ll need to do is contact local movers to relocate the belongings they left behind and store them. The movers will help you organize a small move and pick an adequate storage solution for the things your tenant left behind.
  • Notify your tenant about the situation with their belongings and let them know about the time they have to pick up their stuff. It’s important to specify the deadline and attach the inventory list. You should also make sure to include charges for storage unit rent and let them know what will happen to their stuff if they don’t collect them.
A woman packing and labeling moving boxes.
Make sure to make an inventory of all items that tenants left behind them.

During this process, it’s important to always follow the law and correct ways of doing it. This will save you more money and time than going for a wrongful eviction lawsuit.

Bookmark our tenant abandonment guide

Even though we sincerely hope you never get in an even remotely similar situation, it’s not a bad idea to have our tenant abandonment guide bookmarked just in case. You never know what can happen, and you need to make sure you’re protected in any case.