Tenant was not responding or paying rent. Showed up and empty

21 Replies

Tenant was not responding or paying rent so I went by the house and the place is empty from looking through the window. Door is locked all furniture is out just misc. garbage on floor.... how do I move about moving on from the tenant and go in and remove the garbage and move on to marketing the property again?

Thanks

Aaron

Call your magistrate to confirm. Once place is abandoned and especially empty you can go in and change locks and take back property. Also it is typical that if less than $500 worth of stuff is left behind you can still go in and change locks.
Again, check with your local magistrate to confirm, but you should be good to go.

Do you have an abandonment clause in your lease?  A similar situation happened to me and I did not have the abandonment clause.  I ended up having to track down the tenant and have them sign a release.  Now the abandonment is included. :-) 

@Aaron Harren  This issue, and the answer to your question, is extremely state-specific.  I'm sure everyone is giving you advice with the best of intentions, but the answer truly varies from state-to-state.  So unless you're getting advice from an attorney in the state where this rental property is located, I'd caution you on acting on it.

If the rental property is in your state (Minnesota), here's a few links that might be helpful:

Minnesota Attorney General - Landlords and Tenants: Rights and Responsibilities

Minnesota Statutes - Tenant's Personal Property Remaining in Premises: Abandoned Property

BiggerPockets Post: Abandoned unit in Minnesota

Ultimately, if you really want to handle this situation correctly, you really should consult an experienced landlord-tenant attorney in your area.  It wouldn't be expensive to just pay for a quick consult and I would think the peace of mind (and avoiding the possibility and liability of handling the situation incorrectly) would make it money well spent. 

@Aaron Harren it is called a midnight move out. I know people say hire an attorney, post notice, etc. That is all going to take time and cost money and for what? But just being frank, the tenant is gone and you will never hear from them again. If they only left garbage, clean it up, change the locks and get the place rerented. They left voluntarily and owe you money. Why on earth would they ever even try to contact you. Just common sense. If they left items of value or appear to still be living there, that is different.

Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock :

@Aaron Harren it is called a midnight move out. I know people say hire an attorney, post notice, etc. That is all going to take time and cost money and for what? But just being frank, the tenant is gone and you will never hear from them again. If they only left garbage, clean it up, change the locks and get the place rerented. They left voluntarily and owe you money. Why on earth would they ever even try to contact you. Just common sense. If they left items of value or appear to still be living there, that is different.

OP: This is where most of your problems are taken care of if you have an abandonment clause. Here in my state we have to store their stuff for 30 days even if they abandon it, then we can keep/sell/donate as desired. I had a guy once leave an entire toolbox with probably $500-1000 worth of tools in it. I tried getting this guy to come back and at least get his tools, told him I wasn't mad at him, but never heard from him again. 

 

@Joe Splitrock I see where you're coming from, and I agree that the OP doesn't need to spend much time/money on the issue. However, I would at least contact the city at a bare minimum and make sure you're following state/local laws. It would not take much time or cost much money, and it provides a layer of protection. There are professional tenants out there. They're snakes. At least do some homework on the rules before turning over the unit. 

Hi @Aaron Harren , this is a local-specific solution.  While you will receive general rules, each state/county/city can have unique laws specific to this condition.

I suggest either share your market for better insight or research your local laws.

Originally posted by @Nicole Heasley :

@Joe Splitrock I see where you're coming from, and I agree that the OP doesn't need to spend much time/money on the issue. However, I would at least contact the city at a bare minimum and make sure you're following state/local laws. It would not take much time or cost much money, and it provides a layer of protection. There are professional tenants out there. They're snakes. At least do some homework on the rules before turning over the unit. 

In a perfect world, every tenant would give written notice, but my experience with C class properties is people just leave, never to be heard from again. The "right" way to deal with this is eviction, but with an abandonment if there is nothing of value in the unit, we just retake possession. I know tenants are snakes but professional tenants never leave in the first place. Losers leave in the middle of the night. 

MN law doesn't cover this that I have seen so government employees will give you their interpretation. If you do call them, don't give your name or property address...

In my state the technically correct way to do it is to file an eviction...the court would send them a letter to the address of the apartment, and when the tenant didnt mail in a response to the eviction order, you would win a default judgement all within about 2 or 3 weeks...but do I know people, that know people that just go in, change the locks, clean, paint, make ready and rent again? NO COMMENT.

For what it's worth, two excerpts from my lease:


BY SIGNING THIS RENTAL AGREEMENT YOU AGREE THAT UPON SURRENDER OR ABANDONMENT, WE SHALL NOT BE LIABLE OR RESPONSIBLE FOR THE STORAGE OR DISPOSITION OF YOUR PERSONAL PROPERTY.


6. OCCUPANCY: Only those persons whose names appear on the lease may occupy your apartment without our prior written consent except guests for no more than 7 consecutive or 14 total days within any 12 month period. If you will be absent for more than 14 days, you must notify us in writing. If you leave the rental unit unoccupied at any time while rent is due and unpaid, we may, at our option, take immediate possession of and exclude you from the rental unit, removing and storing at your expense all property found contained therein.

The big issue with abandonment is personal property.  If you decide to not take pocession of the property through the eviction process but, instead decide to use your states abandonment definitions make sure you can prove to any reasonable person the property was indeed abandoned.  Post a 24 hour notice of entry that states the property appears abandoned. Call the utilities and see if they have been shut off. Once you have access to the property take pictures of the outside and inside.  Trash can be thrown out but be careful with furniture even if its broken.  Store anything that the tenant might think its valuable and send a letter telling them to come get it and how long you have to keep it by your state law.  

Keep in mind you are always covered through the eviction process.  I never hire an attorney for evictions.  I file them myself.  If you are self managing its a skill I highly recommend you learn and get really used to.  

@Joe Splitrock I agree with you. I had a tenant did the exact same with me, even left an old car on the drive way. I called cops saying “Hey, my tenant is not responding and I want to wellness check on them”. I met the cop at the property, we mocked on the door (but, I knew she was gone). The main reason I called him for the auto. Well, I had it impounded and changed the locks, cleaned up and painted the house and rented it again. Never heard from the tenant.

Call the utility companies to see if the light and water is still on. If not, put it in your name and go get the place rented.

@Aaron Harren

If I went by a property and discovered that it was abandoned I would immediately go to my van and get my drill, and drill out the lock's and go inside, take possession, put on new locks, clean it and put it right back on the market. All of this within 48 hours...lol

Originally posted by @Mark Fries :

@Aaron Harren

If I went by a property and discovered that it was abandoned I would immediately go to my van and get my drill, and drill out the lock's and go inside, take possession, put on new locks, clean it and put it right back on the market. All of this within 48 hours...lol

You’d wait a whole 48 hours lol I’d rent it while the utilities were still in the old tenants name . Serves him right for ghosting on me . 

 

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