The law surrounding landlord responsibilities can be very complex, for instance when it comes to handling the property left behind by a previous renter. While it’s tempting to just discard the items and move on, this might not always be the solution.
You must take certain legal measures and your renter might even owe you money for their deeds. By implementing the appropriate procedure, you’ll know precisely what to do in the future in case of a similar incident.
Cause for the Renter Leaving
Besides states having various prerequisites on what property owners must do in case of abandoned property, at times the state rules vary based on the situations in which the renter left. For instance, you’ll handle the property differently when a renter leaves because the agreement is up versus a renter who leaves due to an eviction or one who simply leaves without providing notice.
Additionally, you can handle the property differently if there’s written confirmation that the renter won’t be returning.
If your renter just moved out once the lease ended or left early for a certain reason, most states need notice and time before disposing of his or her items. Even if the previous renter owes money, you might need to shift and store the property, issue notice concerning the property’s location and removal instructions, and wait a certain period before selling or discarding the property.
Keep in mind that the notice and time requirements can differ considerably. For instance, in Wisconsin, landlords must offer notice to the ex-renter within 10 days after moving out and wait 30 days before discarding the renter’s belongings.
Oregon’s law, however, requires property owners to give previous tenants just five days from receiving the notice to contact the property owner and arrange the removal or the property owner can discard the renter’s belongings.
State law differs also whether you can charge your renter for storage or removal of the property. Typically, renters who leave voluntarily have protection for any items left behind, and you might need to pay to store the belongings yourself. You must also confirm the prerequisites in your state before disposing of any of the items left behind.
Landlords frequently have more freedom when disposing of a renter’s property if the renter didn’t leave on peaceful terms. Evictions have their set of regulations and rules for landlords and beware that state law can differ.
Frequently, the tenant notice and storage prerequisites are shorter, with some being as fast as seven days. Since local sheriffs’ offices typically enforce evictions, a number of states need sheriffs to dispose of and store abandoned belongings.
Examine the Local Laws
It’s imperative you examine your tenant and local property laws before removing the property. After all, it’s possible the renter still has rights to the belongings. Most jurisdictions have precise procedures that property owners must follow before getting rid of belongings.
If you adhere to the laws, you’ll have protection from any previous renter attempting to sue you for property loss fines or damages.
Examine the Rental Terms
Since left behind items can be a huge problem for landlords, you might decide to incorporate a clause in your initial rental agreement that addresses any property left behind. Before you touch any items, double check the rental agreement for terms associated with this kind of situation. Depending on the agreement used, you might be entitled to disposal charges for eliminating your previous renter’s property.
Whether your last lease ended peacefully or not, your previous renter might have left some belongings behind. In such a case, you’ll need to adopt the appropriate measures to avoid any legal action against you.
For more information on what to do if a previous renter didn’t take their belongings, contact us at Apartment Agents or leave a message.