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Landlord’s Rules 101: Dealing With the Junk Tenants Leave Behind

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When tenants move out, you hope they’d leave nothing but a clean apartment. Unfortunately, many leave piles of junk, instead.


When this happens, it becomes the landlord’s responsibility to clean up. If you’re a landlord coping with junk left behind by your last tenants, here’s what you need to know about getting life back to normal.


The Definition of Tenant Property

Today, the law defines tenant property as any personal possessions that your tenant or their guests owns, which the tenant moved into the rental unit or stored anywhere on the property, including garages, yards, and outbuildings.


According to most lease agreements, the tenant must restore the property to its original condition at the conclusion of the lease. This means moving their personal property out and off of the rented property when they vacate the home. If they don’t, you may have to step in.


Dealing With Abandoned Tenant Property: 4 Steps

If your tenant has moved out and left a mess behind, here are the steps you’ll need to take to remedy the situation.


1. First, Determine if Property Been Abandoned

The first thing you’ll need to do is make reasonable attempts to communicate with your tenant. If they left a forwarding address or contact information behind, reach out to verify that the items have indeed been abandoned, and weren’t merely forgotten.

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2. Notify the Tenant of Abandoned Property

When it comes to dealing with tenant property, you have to understand the laws in your area. In some states, a tenant can sue a landlord who disposes of their property, even if the renter is no longer living in the unit.


Instead, you must notify your tenants about their abandoned property. Here are the steps California law requires you to follow:

  • Make a list of the tenant’s abandoned property. Take photographs of everything they left behind.

  • Store the abandoned property. You can keep the abandoned property wherever you want, but everything the tenant left behind must be secure and dry.

  • Notify the tenant. You must also notify the tenant that they’ve left property behind, and you intend to dispose of it if it remains unclaimed. If you think the property is not the tenant’s, but you believe you know who the owner is, you must also notify the rightful owner of the property. (California Code of Civ. Proc. § § 1983 and 1986).


When it comes to notifying the client, you have a few options. You can do it in person, email the notice, or mail the notice to the tenant’s last known mailing address. If you deliver the notice to the tenant, then you must hold onto the tenant’s abandoned property for at least 15 days.


If you choose to mail or email the notice to the ex-tenant, you must hold onto their items for at least 18 days from the date the notification was sent. For more details, see California Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines.


3. Disposing of Abandoned Property

If the tenant has not responded after the time allotted by the law, the landlord can estimate the value of the abandoned property. If the property is worth less than $700, the landlord can keep, sell, or dispose of the items and keep the money. If the things are worth more than $700, the landlord must sell the items at a public auction but can petition for reimbursement for the cost of storage and removal of abandoned items.


When to Hire Help

Nobody wants to clean up a mess they didn’t cause. If your tenant left you with a pile of junk, our junk removal specialists can help.


Nixxit makes the task of disposing of items quick and painless and will help you get your unit ready to let once more.


We work directly with landlords, property managers, real estate agents and more to help get properties cleaned up quickly and back on the marketing. Whether you have a small load or a house filled with old tenant remnants, our team is here to help.


Ready to learn more about our property cleanout services or get a quote for your job? Give us a call by confirming your location below!

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