If you haven't experienced it yet, this scenario does sometimes happen for rental property owners: a renter leaves—and leaves their stuff behind in the property! In some cases, they might leave an unpaid rent balance behind, as well.
What can real estate investors do when they discover abandoned belongings in a rental? Before you toss everything in a dumpster and relist the property, follow these tips from Silver Spring property management experts and follow the law!
Check With Your Lawyer
It can be frustrating to open the door to an "empty" rental and find furniture, clothing, or items left behind by a resident who either moved out due to the end of their lease or simply abandoned the property and everything in it. However, your first step to deal with the situation should be consulting a lawyer.
Depending on the circumstances of how and why the resident left (and didn't take everything with them), the process to remove the items and handle the situation appropriately must follow the law in different ways. Your legal counsel and an expert Silver Spring property management can guide you through what to do to avoid fines or lawsuits.
Review the Lease
Your lawyer will ask for the lease agreement to determine the first course of action. A thorough lease agreement includes details about what happens when a renter leaves items behind and how to enforce late fees for past-due rent if that also applies.
If your residents abandoned the property before the end of the lease term, your lease should also provide direction for legally terminating the lease and attempting to collect owed rent from your former renters.
A strong lease agreement is a critical tool to help protect your rentals and income. If you find yourself without the support you need in your current lease to deal with abandoned property, work with a property manager in Silver Spring to update it before the next lease term.
Determine the Appropriate Next Steps
You've reviewed the lease, and you have guidance from your lawyer, yet the abandoned items still sit in the rental. The longer they stay there, the more money you lose until you can market the rental and find a new renter.
Depending on the circumstances of why the resident left, proceed according to the law.
When the Renter Abandons The Rental (Without Notice)
You didn't receive notice, but no one has laid eyes on your residents in days or weeks. You also haven't received a rent payment since last month.
Before assuming the property is abandoned, do your best to contact the residents named on the lease. Work to confirm that they have truly left the property and no longer intend to live there. It's important to get this confirmation before re-listing the property to avoid a problem if the "current" residents suddenly return and wonder where their stuff went.
When a Renter Moves Out At the End of a Lease
Sometimes, residents forget a piece of furniture they meant to come back for or leave clothes in the closet. If your renter moved out at the end of a lease in good standing, reach out to them and let them know they left a few things behind.
If it makes sense to ship it, get a forwarding address and work with them to connect them with their items. Be sure not to assume they don't want anything left behind without making an effort to get in touch and reunite them with left-behind belongings.
When No One Claims the Items
You can't reach a renter who left without notice, or they don't want their items. It's time to remove everything and get your property ready for a new resident!
Work with a Silver Spring property manager and local law enforcement to remove items appropriately. If you find an abandoned vehicle in the driveway, local law enforcement should handle the next steps for the car. If you're stuck with owed rent, it can be appropriate to sell some items and recover some of that rent amount.
Find a New Renter
As you remove abandoned items and work through the make-ready process, start searching for your next resident. A Silver Spring property management company can help you create a compelling listing that attracts quality renters. A property manager also handles the screening and leasing process to start your next resident with excellent documentation.
Better renters are more likely to pay the rent on time, stay through the end of their list (and renew), and take everything with them when they move!
Let Silver Spring Property Management Handle Abandoned Items
If you're unsure how to deal with missing renters and abandoned items, let a Silver Spring property management company handle it for you! Renters Warehouse BW/Metro helps rental property owners enjoy better residents who stick to the lease and pay the rent on time. When a resident leaves items behind, we work with lawyers and law enforcement to handle the situation in a way that best protects your investment.
Learn more about minimizing risks to your investment properties and income! Download our free resource, "Protecting Your Investment Property: A Guide."