What to Do with a Tenant’s Belongings Left Behind

In a perfect world, landlords and property managers could keep their tenants forever, or at least a few years. A good tenant is like a diamond in the rough, when you find one, you don’t want to let it go. Unfortunately, tenants leave. Bad tenants also leave, thankfully. Whether “good” or “bad,” sometimes, tenants leave behind some belongings.

Usually, the property manager or landlord will find the belongings during an inspection of the unit. It can be a hassle to deal with forgotten or abandoned property. If it was simply forgotten, the tenant will likely happily come back and pick up what was left, and the rental space is ready for the next tenant. However, if your tenant left a lot of things and purposely abandoned those things, you, as the landlord, will likely have a lengthy process to go through to remove and/or store the property.

As a property owner, you have a duty to securely store a tenant’s possessions for a certain time period (without damaging them) to give them time to reclaim his/her property. Follow your city/state’s protocol for this, so you are not at risk or liable for missing or damaged property.  If your lease agreement stated what will happen to abandoned property, you will be in the clear, if you follow the leave.

  • First, figure out why the tenant left. If the tenant moved out on their own, you have more flexibility. If you terminate their lease and gave them a proper number of days’ notice, you also have flexibility with what to do with the belongings. If you evicted the tenant, you would likely have to get law enforcement involved to handle the eviction. If the tenant vanishes, they still have rights to their property. Figure out your state’s property laws and the landlord’s responsibility.
  • If you find garbage or perishables, you can throw them away.
  • You don’t have to return anything that has become a “fixture” of the unit such as a bookshelf or coat hook, etc. You can remove them or not. If you want them removed, you can take the costs for removal/repair out of the security deposit.
  • If a vehicle was left behind, let law enforcement handle it; they will get it towed for you.
  • For furniture and other personal property, inventory everything left behind. You may have to get the local government involved. Store the belongings. After a certain amount of time, you can either return, sell, keep, donate, or trash the property.
  • Make sure you have a list of all the items left behind and take photos of their condition. This will protect you from being liable for damages.
  • You can safely store the property anywhere (your own garage, a commercial storage unit, basement, etc.) It’s also a good idea to get a neutral witness watch your move the items to a secure place.
  • Keep a list of your expenses for removal and storage so you can be reimbursed through the security deposit or sale of items.
  • Throughout this entire process, try to contact the tenant any way you can such as known phone numbers, emails, emergency contacts, and previous addresses. You need to make a reasonable effort to notify the tenant of the belongings, including delivering notices, if possible.
  • If the tenant claims the property in the allotted time frame, you must make the property available them to retrieve.

To ensure this doesn’t happen again, you want to look for quality tenants to rent from you. Put an abandoned property clause in all future leases, so tenants are aware of what will become of their property if left behind and not claimed. Send a move-out checklist to tenants before they are scheduled to leave. Hire a property manager to deal with tenant turnover and issues.

Looking for a Jacksonville Property Management Company?

As a Jacksonville property management company, our team at Quest Real Estate, LLC. have worked with many landlords throughout the years, helping them in whatever ways they need us, including with tenants and their property. We take all the responsibility with tenant move outs. If there are belongings left behind, we will handle it and deal with the abdanoned property. We know the process and understand the staw laws — we are tenant experts.

We also known how to properly screen tenants and write leases, so we can help prevent a messy situation from occurring.

At Quest Real Estate, we take pride in our quality property management services. We have a long history of providing residential property management company services to our customers. We are knowledgeable in local sales and rental markets, and we are ready to put that knowledge to work for you. Our main goals are to make you the most successful owner possible, and to provide you peace of mind knowing that your tenants and property will be well managed.

Don’t just take our word for it, read some testimonials about us and our property management services.

At Quest Real Estate, LLC, we have years of experience working with tenants and we can help you find ways to keep and attract new tenants so you can continue to grow your investment for years to come.

Our Jacksonville property management team prepares leases, has 24-hour emergency maintenance, collects rent, takes photos, aggressively markets your property, and more. We will work with you to find ways to better serve your tenants, attract new ones, and manage your property.

If you’re looking for a Jacksonville property management company  to manage your property or find you tenants, let Quest Real Estate help you!

Contact our team at Quest Real Estate, LLC, by submitting our contact form. If you’d like more information on Jacksonville, or information on homes for sale or rent here in Jacksonville, Fl, call us at 904-373-9171.