Property management experts and landlords face many challenges when it comes to tenant abandoned property. There are certain situations where a tenant leaves a rental apartment or condo without paying rent. In other occasions, the tenant may leave his or her personal property behind. If the tenant has not paid rent and the landlord presumes that the tenant abandoned the rental unit, the landlord has to inspect the unit to determine whether it is abandoned or not. However, landlords and property management in Napa should ensure that they strictly follow the California Law on how to deal with the situation when a tenant abandoned a property.
Determining Whether the Property is Abandoned
In some scenarios, determining whether a property has been abandoned is clear-cut because the neighbors may report having seen movers packing the tenant’s personal property, or the tenant may leave a notice stating the reason for abandonment. However, in some instances, it is difficult for property management in Napa to establish whether the tenant abandoned property or not.
In California, it is relatively easy to determine whether a property has been abandoned or not. Firstly, we at Keyrenter consider if the tenancy has been terminated. For instance, if a tenant moves as a result of an eviction notice, his/her tenancy has been terminated. Tenancy is also considered terminated if the tenant moved out of the rental property on the date that the rental agreement ended.
Secondly, we must take into account if the tenant has left the rental property. In the case where a rental unit has been vacated, the tenancy is regarded as terminated and any belongings left behind by the tenant after termination is confirmed is regarded to as tenant’s abandoned property.
Notifying the Tenant of Abandoned Property
Any property management in Napa has delegated the duty of ensuring that they maximize on the landlord’s and property owner’s investment. In California, landlords have to follow certain steps stipulated by the law before getting rid of tenant abandoned property. Sometimes, the items left behind by tenants can be considered as trash, but it is imperative to carefully assess these items because something may appear as trash to you, but have sentimental or expensive value to the tenant.
Here is what to do in such a scenario:
1. Step 1- Inventory
The landlord has to take inventory of the tenant’s abandoned property and note down all the items that have been found in the apartment. We offer property management in Napa to ensure that the value of your investment grows. As such, we advise that if you find a locked trunk you should not open it because a landlord can only access the property after getting consent from the tenant.
However, you can get away with opening the trunk if it is only of determining the value of the belongings in the trunk. The method of disposing of abandoned property relies on the total value of the property.
2. Step 2- Determine the value
After taking inventory of the entire tenant’s abandoned property, we can help property owners to determine if the value of this property exceeds $300. The value of the property left behind is decided based on how much the items would fetch at a garage sale or a public auction.
3. Step 3- Notify the Tenant(s)
At this stage, we help property owners to send the ex-tenant a Notice of Right to Reclaim Abandoned Property. California law requires landlords to send out this notice before getting rid of the abandoned property.
The Notice of Right to Reclaim Abandoned Property contents include:
- The address of the rental premises
- The name of the tenant and any other individual who could have an interest in the rental unit
- A description of the property- such as is identifiable under Civil Code section 1983(b))
- The value of the property
- A place where the property can be claimed
- The landlord’s signature and the date when the notice was sent
The notice is normally sent to the last known address of the tenant. If the tenant contacts the landlord within 18 days after the notice was mailed, then the landlord should surrender the property. The landlord has to surrender the property within 18 days after the tenant has left and demands for his/her property even if the notice wasn’t mailed. The landlord is allowed by law to charge the costs incurred such as storage and moving costs.
If the property left behind is worth less than $300, and the tenant has not contacted the landlord 18 days after the notice was mailed, the landlord has the right to keep or sell the property. There is no limit as to what to do with the abandoned property. However, if the property is worth above $300, the landlord must organize for the property to be sold at a public auction, and an ad must be published in the newspaper 5 days before the auction.
Adhering to these requirements ensures that the landlord is free from any liability claims, which would see you pay a sizeable amount in compensation.
Understanding the California Law
Checking your state laws is very crucial because it helps you decide on what to do after a tenant abandons property on your premises. The California Civil Code section 1951.3 allows you (landlords) to reclaim your rental property when you ascertain that a tenant has abandoned it. California allows landlords to make sensible assumptions of property abandonment when they have evidence of an eviction notice, evidence of overdue rent, or when the neighbors inform you that the tenant moved out.
After you have determined the abandonment of property and the rent is overdue by over 14 days, you are obligated to file a Notice of Belief of Abandonment in California. This allows you to summarize the reasons as to why you deem the rental unit abandoned and to notify the tenant that you will assume abandonment of the property if the tenant does not contact you within 18 days.