At some point during your career as a landlord, it’s likely that a tenant will leave an item behind. When the item is left behind on your property, there are some general protocols to follow. Here’s what to do with the items a tenant leaves behind.
Itemize and Store Items
In order to avoid any legal issues, you may want to write a list of any property that was left behind and take pictures to avoid damage claims. Once you’ve itemized any left-behind property, you’ll want to store it in a safe place. If you have to pay for a place to keep it, write down any expenses so you can be reimbursed, either through the security deposit or by tenant payment. For example, it may be easy to leave a left-behind chair in a storage closet, but you’ll have to keep larger furniture or even cars in a secure place that you likely don’t have the extra space for.
Contact the Tenant
Once you’ve itemized and adequately stored away any items, you should call the tenant as soon as possible. Typically, your state or city laws will stipulate the time frame you need to contact them in. You can refer to their application for contact information, and you must deliver a written notice of the abandoned property by mail or by hand. A notice should include the list of the property left behind with images, the state or local deadline for claiming the property, where the property is stored, and any expenses. You’ll also want to include what will happen to the property if they don’t claim it.
What To Do if They Claim the Property
If you’ve successfully contacted the tenant, state and local laws will tell you how long you have to return the item. For example, in some states, smaller items must be returned within three days. However, the delivery of larger items must be negotiated. You’ll also want to ensure that you’ve been reimbursed before or by the time the tenant retrieves their property.
What To Do if They Don’t Claim the Property
Depending on state and local regulations, you may be able to sell the property at a public or private sale. If you want, you can even include any left-behind furnishings in the unit and rent the property as partially furnished. To avoid any issues in the future, you can include an abandoned property clause in your lease agreement.
Knowing what to do with items a tenant leaves behind can save you from unnecessary legal issues. If you’re struggling to write an abandoned property clause or need help managing tenant property, Excalibur Homes has a property management team in Nashville, Tennessee. Here, we have members who are there to help you with all your landlord needs and responsibilities.