The scourge of any tenancy is abandonment. It may seem like something that happens to all the other landlords, but in the case that it happens to you, it’s very important to know how to deal with an abandoned premises and the personal property within. Abandonment may be evidenced in a few ways; namely: the return of keys, the substantial removal of the tenant’s property, a notice from the tenant, the extended absence of the tenant while rent remains unpaid, and otherwise any evidence that would reasonably show that the tenant has permanently surrendered possession of the property.

Mitigation of damages

After having regained possession of the premises, the first step a landlord should do is relet the property as soon as possible to attempt regaining any rent that would have been lost throughout the tenancy until its termination. The tenant who abandoned the premises is liable for any difference in rent throughout the agreement term that would have been paid and that which was paid during the reletting.

Personal Property

The process for dealing with any abandoned personal property left behind by the tenant may appear to be complicated but really only requires a few notice periods. Landlord must first put the property in storage and then send a notice regarding the abandoned property to the tenant. On the off-chance that the tenant is still in possession of the premises, the notice must give at least 7 days for the tenant to regain and remove any personal property from the premises. If the tenant has actually vacated the premises, the notice must give at least 7 days for the tenant to respond to the notice and claim the property; this notice must also have an itemized list of the abandoned property.

The tenant may do one of three actions: physically claim the property within 7 days, respond positively to the notice within 7 days in which the landlord must extend the storage period up to 14 days after the notice was sent, or not respond at all within those 7 days. If the first or second action is taken, then the landlord may not condition the release of the personal property to payment of rent, storage costs, or damages. If, even after 14 days, the tenant still does not physically claim his or her personal property or has made no oral or written claim to the property within 7 days, then the landlord may either condition the release of the property as stated above, or sell or dispose of the property. Any profits made in the personal property sale after having been put towards rental payment, damages, or storage costs must be forwarded to the Treasurer of State.