No landlord wants to have to evict a tenant, but it is sometimes necessary in property management. However, your duties as landlord do not end with the eviction. Frequently, landlords are faced with the dilemma of what to do with a tenant’s belongings left behind following eviction.
Clearing out the rental is an important part of property maintenance and preparing it for the next tenant.
Dealing with valuable abandoned items, such as a bicycle, a stereo, clothes, or furniture, is a different matter. Landlords in several states may face severe penalties and liability if they dispose of a tenant’s abandoned personal items (other than evident trash) without first following specified processes.
Landlords must be familiar with their state’s rules on topics such as:
- Informing former tenants of vacant property.
- Keeping abandoned property.
- Clearing abandoned property.
- Using earnings from selling abandoned property.
That’s why Rent Appeal put together this article to take you through a step-by-step method for dealing with this important and legally challenging subject.
In many places, landlords’ options for dealing with abandoned property are determined by the circumstances surrounding the tenant’s departure.
- The renter decides to leave at the conclusion of a lease or after giving a notice of termination. Many states offer landlords the most leeway in disposing of leftover things in this case.
- The tenant decides to leave after getting an eviction notice from the landlord. In this case, many states offer landlords the most leeway in disposing of leftover things.
- The tenant is physically evicted, and personal belongings are either left in the rental or hauled to the curb. Some states compel landlords to take extra care with the property of an evicted tenant. Some, on the other hand, demand less work.
- The tenant flees. Property belonging to tenants who leave without notification must be handled differently than property abandoned after a tenant who has been given notice or evicted leaves.
Exceptions to Laws Regarding Abandoned Property
The following types of property are exempt from state abandonment laws:
- Fixtures. When an item, such as built-in bookcases, is affixed permanently to the wall, it is referred to as a “fixture.” In the absence of a written agreement between the landlord and tenant (such as a lease clause that addresses fixtures and improvements), fixtures added by a tenant become a part of the premises. Fixtures are the landlord’s property and do not need to be given to the renter.
- Vehicles. A departing tenant may occasionally leave an inoperable or old automobile in the garage or carport. Motor vehicles are sometimes classified as a subset of personal property to which state rules on abandoned property do not apply. When a renter abandons a car or other vehicle, the landlord should contact the local police, providing the vehicle’s license plate number, the model and make, as well as the location where it is parked. After confirming that it is abandoned, the authorities will most likely organize for it to be towed.
When reading your state’s regulations, keep an eye out for different procedures depending on what caused the tenant’s departure. Every state has its own set of regulations on determining if you are accountable for returning an evicted tenant’s things. To learn your about Georgia’s specific requirements for handling abandoned property, look up the regulations yourself or get professional assistance such as hiring the services of Rent Appeal.
A Chance to Recover
While eviction can be unpleasant, it is critical to treat the issue with respect and empathy. Below are the measures you should follow to allow the tenant to claim their belongings.
While not all states mandate it, landlords should consider imposing a holding period on any abandoned possessions. Storing goods for a short amount of time and allowing tenants to retrieve them reduces the possibility of them filing a complaint for missing property.
It is generally simple to allow evicted renters to reclaim their belongings, and the evicted tenant is usually liable for covering the costs. Unless your state requires otherwise, you will generally find that keeping products for 7 to 10 days is sufficient. If an evicted renter wishes to get their belongings back, they will do so during this time.
Storage and Disposal
When renting out their homes, landlords should be familiar with local rules and regulations regarding abandoned property when dealing with a tenant’s things following eviction. Typically, it is your duty to securely keep the tenant’s things for a set period, usually between 15 and 30 days, while advising the renter of this duration.
During this time, landlords may incur storage charges that, depending on local legislation, may be recovered from the tenant. If the renter does not return their things within the designated time frame, landlords may dispose of them in accordance with local legislation.
Common means of disposal include auctioning, giving, or properly disposing the abandoned items. Proper documentation and compliance with the law during this procedure are critical to protecting both your interests as a landlord and the rights of the renter.
Protect Your Livelihood and Investment
When dealing with a tenant’s belongings following a removal, protecting your rights as a landlord is critical. This includes recognizing your legal privileges and taking into account professional support for effective management such as working with a reliable property management company like Rent Appeal.
Furthermore, consider including additional provision in your lease agreement specifically discussing how belongings will be handled following an eviction. You may reduce any legal challenges and negotiate the situation with courtesy and honesty if you are prepared and mindful.
Handling a tenant’s belongings following an eviction is a complex and emotional procedure. When in doubt, seek the assistance of a professional rental property management team. Rent Appeal acts with sensitivity and professionalism every phase of the tenancy. We navigate this complex situation with integrity and professionalism.
We understand that every eviction case is unique, so we tailor our resolutions based on your own circumstances to maintain a neutral landlord tenant relationship throughout the process. Contact us today!