Originally posted by @Bradley Miller :
I have a tenant who has totally trashed the unit, has not had electric or heat on in over three weeks, and has left a dog and two cats in unit. I was there Saturday with animal control and had the animals removed. The place appears abandoned but tenant is totally unresponsive and is clearly not staying at the unit. She also owes 2 months rent. What is considered abandoned and at what point do I have the right to remove her trash and get to work on rehab?
You should spend the money on "Every Landlord's Legal Guide" by NOLO and bookmark their website. It has a ton of practical information and is updated annually with state-specific laws. Here is what they say about abandoned rentals in NY:
You can usually tell when the tenant is not planning to come back. They usually leave some furniture, kitchenware, a broken vacuum that was probably never used the entire time they lived there, old food in the fridge, and a lot of their kid's toys. You won't find their personal clothing, a flatscreen TV, or a computer because those are the things important to them.
My state allows me to consider it abandoned if they are unreachable for 15 days and owe money. My process:
1. Post a notice on the door that the property that I am claiming the property abandoned and will take possession within 24 hours. Take a picture of the notice on the door for my records.
2. Record a video or photos of the interior to show how it was left and to inventory the belongings.
3. Change the locks. My notice states that I've changed locks and they must contact me to regain entrance. I don't want them sneaking back in and I don't want their druggy buddy coming in to pick up his jacket that was left behind.
4. The following day I go in and remove everything. 90% of it will always be junk. Anything useful is donated. I have only found something of value 1-2 times and those items are kept for a certain period and then sold to recoup some losses.
5. Clean and move on.
I've never had a tenant abandon a property and then come back for their stuff or pay the rent or attempt to sue me.