What can you do when your tenant abandons the rental unit? The first step is to determine if the unit is truly abandoned. If your tenant anticipates an extended absence of more than seven consecutive days they are required to notify you of their absence. This is a practical requirement that is written into a lease agreement so that the landlord can determine if a tenant is just away on vacation or has abandoned the property. In order to determine that a unit is abandoned the landlord must look for evidence of abandonment. Evidence of abandonment may be one of the following:
- the return of keys
- the substantial removal of the tenant’s personal property
- notice by tenant
- the extended absence of tenant while rent remains unpaid
- any evidence which would cause a reasonable person to believe that the tenant has permanently surrendered possession of the premises
Landlords have a duty to try to mitigate damages if the unit is abandoned, which means the landlord must make reasonable efforts to rent it at a fair rental. In Georgia the landlord may elect to take the following actions:
- terminate the rental agreement;
- enter the premises and lease the unit to another tenant, holding the original tenant liable for any deficiency; or
- permit the premises to remain vacant, thereby holding the tenant liable for the rental amount for the remainder of the agreement term.
Personal Property Left Behind
LeaseRunner’s standard Georgia Residential Lease Agreement is written such that the landlord and tenant agree that the landlord is not responsible for the storage or disposition of any personal property left behind by the tenant.
Georgia landlord tenant law does not specifically address the obligations of the landlord regarding any personal property remaining on the premises after abandonment. However, LeaseRunner’s standard Georgia Residential Lease Agreement is written such that the landlord and tenant agree that the landlord is not responsible for the storage or disposition of any personal property left behind by the tenant. This very important point is highlighted in bold and underlined in the lease agreement, to be initialed at the time of lease signing.