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Abandoned Property: What’s a Landlord to Do?

abandoned propertyIt doesn’t happen often, but when it does, boy, it can be a real headache. What’s a landlord to do when a tenant moves out and leaves personal belongings behind?

We’re not talking about trash or a tube of lipstick. We’re talking about stuff like furniture, electronics, and clothing.

Abandoned property poses a real problem for property owners for many reasons. First and foremost, it takes time to clear out the home for the next tenant. Secondly, serious legal issues are at stake of the abandoned property isn’t handled properly. HERE are the complete rules and conditions that apply to rental property owners in the state of California.

In the meantime, there are several common-sense steps you can take to handle this type of situation.

  1. Ensure that you have control over access to the former tenant’s personal property by recovering all keys and garage door openers, or by changing the rental home’s locks. One of the worst things a property owner can do is allow a former tenant’s personal property to be stolen after the tenant has moved out. Civil and criminal charges may result, creating many unwanted legal problems.
  2. Document the abandoned property. This can be done in several ways, such as by making a detailed video recording of the items, taking photographs, or by making a detailed list. Taking photos and video accompanied by a detailed written list of items is the best way to document the property’s condition, in case questions about property damage arise later on.
  3. Once it’s determined that you are legally able to move the abandoned items, it is a good idea to invite a neutral person to act as a witness as you do so. This will prevent any questions about theft or illegal handling of the tenant’s property, and provide confirmation that the property is being handled safely and appropriately. In most cases, holding property until terms of the lease are met will not be lawful, make sure you fully understand the tenant rights to reclaim their property in California.
  4. Notify the former tenant in writing that property was left behind and what you have done with it to date. You could also include a statement informing the tenant that they have until a certain date to claim their items, and what you plan to do with their things after that date.

It’s not easy trying to navigate these circumstances on your own. Consider how much easier it would be to let Harbor Property Management handle this for you. Our South Bay property management professionals have in-depth knowledge of local laws and can ensure that abandoned property is handled accordingly.

With our help, you can avoid time-consuming hassles, leaving you free to allocate your time in more profitable ways.