There may be a time when your rental unit is abandoned by your tenant. 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
If it is determined that a rental unit has been abandoned then the landlord has a duty to try to mitigate his damages.
The landlord must make reasonable efforts to rent it at a fair rental, and if it is re-rented for a term beginning before the expiration of the original lease then the original lease is terminated as of the date of the new tenancy. The lease terminates as soon as the landlord is aware of the abandonment if the landlord fails to use reasonable efforts to re-rent the premises or if he accepts the abandonment as a surrender. A landlord’s ability to seek financial damages from the abandoning tenant is therefore predicated on his efforts to re-rent the property.
Personal property left behind
Ohio landlord tenant law is silent on the obligations of the landlord regarding any personal property remaining on the premises after abandonment. LeaseRunner’s standard Ohio 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 LeaseRunner’s Ohio Residential Lease Agreement, to be initialed at the time of lease signing.