Real Estate

Abandoned Property: Should You Sell It?

Say that a tenant moves out, no matter the reason, when you arrive on the property, you find that he or she has abandoned furniture or other items. Your first, reasonable thought, may be that he or she does not want said items and that since he or she has left, you can sell or keep whatever is left behind. You may be able to, but only eventually. At first, you want to think before you sell.

What Is Abandoned Property?

As a landlord, you have responsibilities to your tenant. For instance, a warrant of habitability is a right that you must offer your tenants. He or she must have heat, hot water and a reasonable expectation of safety. According to Steven Taylor, your responsibilities extend past when your tenant leaves. Abandoned property is anything that your tenant leaves behind after a lease ends or after a long disappearance. This is your tenant’s property and you have to follow certain regulations.

What Are the Landlord’s Responsibilities?

Before you touch the property, consider why the tenant left. Did he or she leave because he or she terminated the lease? In this case, you may have the most freedom with the items, because he or she left willingly.

Evictions can be a little more complex. There is protocol that you have to follow to ensure that the person receives his or her belongings. Your due diligence is to contact the tenant to inform him or her of the abandoned property. You can do this through a written letter delivered by hand or through the mail. If the tenant claims the property, then you have to make a reasonable effort to be accommodating for the tenant to gather his or her property. If the tenant does not claim the property, then you have the rights to sell it.

When a tenant leaves his or her property behind, do not automatically sell or donate it right away. If you do, there are chances the tenant could seek legal recourse.