Tenants will sometimes abandon a rental - it’s not a common occurrence, but in the event that happens with a rental you manage you’ll need to know the law in Connecticut for dealing with the aftermath of an abandonment. There will be required notices and time frames to adhere to in order to remain in compliance with the state statutes.
The first step in the abandonment process is determining evidence of abandonment, which may be specified in the statute. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 47a-11b defines “abandonment” as when the occupants have vacated without providing notice to the landlord and do not intend to return. The intention not to return can be evidenced by the removal of substantially all of their possessions and personal effects from the premises along with either of the following:
- nonpayment of rent for more than two months; or
- an express statement by the occupants that they do not intend to occupy the premises after a specified date.
A written notice is required to be sent by the landlord if all of the occupants of the rental abandon the premises. If that is the case, the landlord may send notice to each occupant at his last-known address both by regular mail, postage prepaid, and by certified mail, return receipt requested. The notice must include the following information:
- Landlord has reason to believe that the occupant has abandoned the premises;
- landlord intends to reenter and take possession unless the occupant contacts landlord within 10 days of receipt of the notice;
- if the occupant does not contact landlord, landlord intends to remove the property remaining in the premises and relet the premises; and
- if the occupant does not reclaim the property within thirty days after the notice, it will be disposed of.
The notice must be written in clear and simple language and must include a telephone number and a mailing address where the landlord can be contacted. If the notices are returned as undeliverable, or the occupant fails to contact landlord within ten days of the receipt of the notice, landlord can then reenter and take possession of the premises. At that time the rental agreement is deemed to be terminated.
Notice to quit not required
No such notice to quit is required of the landlord when the property is abandoned in order to regain possession of the premises.
Landlord’s duty to mitigate damages
The landlord has a statutory obligation to mitigate any damages due to a tenant abandoning the rental. A landlord will attempt to mitigate damages by attempting to relet the rental at a fair rental rate. If reasonable efforts are not made by the landlord to relet then the landlord does not have a legal right to seek financial compensation for damages from the abandoning tenant. When the landlord does attempt to mitigate damages they can hold the tenant liable for any difference between the rent that would have been payable under the initial rental agreement during the remainder of the agreement term and the net rent for the same period realized by landlord through reletting.
If the tenant leaves behind any personal property the landlord must make an effort to store the property for 30 days and allow the tenant to reclaim the property during that time. An inventory of the property must be recorded. If the occupant does not reclaim their property by the end of the thirty-day period, the landlord can dispose of the property in a manner the landlord considers to be appropriate.