Dealing with Tenant Abandoned Property: It can get tricky and costly!

When your tenant’s lease is up, by law, he/she/they must settle all dues, pass the designated moving-out inspection process, collect all their belongings and vacate the property. But, as any long-time service provider of premier property management in Baltimore will attest to – it’s never that cut and dry all the time! There will be occasions where tenants, for whatever reason, leave behind property in rental units when the lease is up (or even prior).

So, how are landlords to deal with such a situation?

Understand Your Obligations

The simple answer to that question is: Very carefully!

The moving-out inspection process is designed to ensure that tenants are held responsible for any damage the property sustained after they moved in. It is also meant to make sure all belongings of the tenant leave with them once they leave. However, there may be instances where property is left behind, either intentionally or unintentionally:

  • Tenant mistakenly misses something in a corner or a closet
  • The property is deliberately left behind because it’s hard (costly, inconvenient) to transport or dispose
  • Tenant assumes it’s okay to leave it behind, hoping to return shortly and collect it

Many providers of elite property management in Baltimore may have seen these, and many other similar situations where landlords now possess abandoned tenant property. It would be simple to take the view that “They abandoned it…I’ll just get rid of it!”. But a landlord’s obligations go deeper than that.

So, what do you have to do? Just follow the law.

Follow the Law

The laws governing tenant abandoned property may differ from state to county and municipality. So, the first thing to do is ensure you’re aware of the rules applicable to your jurisdiction. In general, here’s what any provider of premier property management in Baltimore would advise you to do:

  • Create a detailed inventory list of the property
  • Take pictures of them “as is” – before handling or moving them
  • Relocate them to a safe storage area, either on premises or at a retail storage facility
  • Ideally, take pictures of them once they’re safely relocated
  • Send notice to the tenant using the last contact you have on file
  • Hand the property over once the tenant arrives to collect it

Best practice is to wait at least a month (if possible, more) before disposing, donating or discarding the property. Throughout this process, make sure you maintain copious amounts of records: Photos, Notification Letter, Registered Letter slips, Donation slips, Sale receipts, Email correspondence. And is the tenant does arrive to reclaim the property, ensure you receive an inspection release and receipt from them.

Getting Professional Help

If you own rental property in Baltimore, that you manage yourself, you’re likely dealing with these issues constantly. If not, you’ll probably be dealing with them in the near future. Tenant abandoned property issues can be a challenge for landlords. Sometimes, they may result in nightmarish lawsuits and countersuits, where both tenant and landlord spend huge amounts of money.

The best way to avoid the stress and financial loss from dealing with such issues is to rely on elite property management in Baltimore to handle your rental services. Professionals do it all on your behalf – from arranging showings to finding new tenants, and from handling evictions and dealing with unit damage or abandoned property. Once you have professional management on your team, you never have to worry about the day-to-day management issues.

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