I just had an interesting "conversation" with a tenant that is renting a SFH from me. I received a text message from an international number. The reads: "Hello, this is (tenant name). A year ago I was deported to Mexico. I left the house to a friend and he just sent me a message to let me know he left it. The house is already clean, it is open for you to have access to it."
I replied back to the message to get some more information but have not received a response. Up until now, the tenant has rented for almost 4 years and has always signed an annual lease with me. Rent was always on time without fail. The current lease is up in May 2018. I have always performed annual inspections and the house was always clean and in good order, and I did in fact see the tenant in May 2017 at the last signing.
The first thought that crossed my mind was that the tenant was trying to get out of the lease early and that this is one giant game that he is playing. However, that would mean he would forfeit his security deposit. I've never had a tenant willing to do that.
The other option is that he is telling me the truth and he was deported, and an unknown person was living in the house. My plan is to visit the house tomorrow to verify that it is vacant. If it appears vacant, I will go inside to evaluate damage, take pictures, change locks, ect. If any items are left behind, I will store them for the time required by law.
Does anyone have any advice or experience with a situation like this? Am I on the right track here? Do I treat this as an abandoned property, or do I need to file an eviction just to be safe?
Do you have phone number for the tenant? An email address? I would call and leave a message if necessary. Send an email discussing situation. Then go to the house and post a 24 hour notice for landlord to enter. The next day enter the house to see what is going on.
If you had an address for his work, I would go there and find out if he still works there.
I suggest that you send a notice before entry. Just to be legally protected in case someone was there.
You are not even sure that the person who texted you is the same tenant.
Complete the SD accounting as required by local law, mail refund check (if owed) and SD accounting to last known address, which is your rental. When the accounting arrives at your rental, keep the unopened, post- marked letter in the tenant file. This is your proof of compliance with the law.
Tenant is gone. Go inspect your property, change the locks, clean and re-rent. Same as any other midnight moveout. Consider yourself lucky that you got the text from your former tenant.
He's gone, don't waste time or money on doing more than necessary, He's a skip.
And at least he told you he's out.. no need for eviction, or attorney.. just hope it's empty and in good condition.