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Real Estate Forum by US Landlord > Landlord and Tenant Help > Rental Property Owners and Managers > Tenant moved out but did not return keys, what to do?

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Tenant moved out but did not return keys, what to do?
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LandlordLaura
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 Posted: Wed Apr 25th, 2007 08:21 pm
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In my opinion, it will be in your best interest to play it safe and assume that you are required to follow the abandonment laws.  (This ex-Tenant may be hoping that you do not.)  If you do not, you would be subject to penalties, based on the Law.  From what you describe in your original post, the Tenant has "abandoned" the property and left belongings at the property.  In my opinion, the problems involved are that the keys were not returned, the ex-Tenant did not have any communication with you re: move-out and you have not received a forwarding address from the ex-Tenant, right? 

Be sure you enter the property with a witness and photograph and/or videotape everything as the ex-Tenant left it.  That way, you have proof to show a Judge if the situation ends up in Court.  You will also be required to supply a Disposition of Security Deposit letter to the ex-Tenant within the legally determined time frame.  You should consider all of your expenses that the ex-Tenants are responsilbe for: cleaning, moving/storing the abandoned property, rekeying the rental property, unpaid rent, etc..

You may wish to consult with an Attorney if you are confused.  The Attorney would be best able to advise you on the legal issues involved.

Let us know how things go...

laiels
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 Posted: Wed Apr 25th, 2007 06:09 pm
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Hi.  I have read through the california tenants handbook (a publication by the DCA).  I have also gone through the link on this website regarding the abandonment of personal property after tenancy has ended.  However neither really address the situation I'm referring to.  Both describe procedures for dealing with abandoned property after a tenant has moved out.  I am also aware of the procedure to reclaim posession of a unit if you believe a tenant has abandoned the property and there have been no formal move out procedures (i.e 30 day notice, return of keys).  You have to send out a belief of abandonment, wait the 18 days out ect.  However, in my situation, 90 day notice has been given, the tenant has moved out. The only thing is the keys were never returned.  The tenant doesn't have a claim to the apartment even if he wanted.  We have no problem storing the items left behind and going through the proper abandonment procedures for those items.....but do we need to wait the 18 days out to begin preparing the unit for rerental?  Or can we get started on it right away given that we have actually ended tenancy with the tenant. 

LandlordLaura
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 Posted: Wed Apr 25th, 2007 02:20 pm
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Yes, I saw that in your original post.  Did you read through the Landlord Tenant Laws to see how "abandonment" is addressed?

Let us know...

laiels
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 Posted: Tue Apr 24th, 2007 12:00 am
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Hi.  As I stated in my original post.  We actually gave the tenant a 90 day notice to vacate by april 11, 2007.  They are gone and their apartment is empy save for a few things.  That is how we know they are not just on vacation.  We actually told them they had to leave.

LandlordLaura
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 Posted: Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 04:16 am
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Before you do anything, read the Landlord Tenant Laws for the State/County/City where your rental property is located to see what they say about "abandonment".  (There is a link through this website that you could try...)  Most Landlord Tenant Laws are very clear re: abandonment issues and proceedures.  You certainly will have to know that you are following the Law and be able to prove it if you are taken to Court at a later date.  (The Tenants could know the Laws and could be hoping that you break them...)

Does your Lease require that the Tenants notify you if they plan to be absent for a particular time-frame?  If you decide to enter the property, bring a witness and be sure that you document everything extremely well re: the property left behind, the condition of the property, etc.. 

If the Tenants have the keys, how do you know that the property has been abandoned?  Could it be that the Tenants are on vacation, for example?  Did you receive anything from the Tenants in writing re: their move-out plans?

Please let us know...

laiels
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 Posted: Mon Apr 16th, 2007 07:17 pm
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State: Ca

Tenants official move out date per the written notice was Apr 11. (Actually the tenant did not give us notice, we gave them 90 day notice that we were ending their tenancy....the 90 day notice was because they are a Housing Assisted tenant and the Fair housing department requires 90 days for these kinds of tenants).

Anyways, the tenants moved out but never turned in the keys. In addition, they did not leave any contact information so we have no way of reaching them. In addition they also left a few things (a children's desk, a box of cookware, and some blankets). It's been 5 days and they haven't been back to claim their remaining items. I assume that they are just abandoning the remaining items, but obviously don't know for sure.

Not quite sure what we can do in a situation like this. Since the tenants never returned the keys, are they legally still in possession of the apartment...so then they are responsible for any subsequent rent until they return the keys? Or can we just consider their tenancy ended, throw out their stuff and begin preparing the apartment for re rental? Any advice is appreciated.
Also, can someone point out any resources regarding landlord/tenant laws for educational purposes?  I know of DCA.gov and have the California Tenant/landlord guide published by the DCA. 


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