If a tenant moves out voluntarily or following an eviction, it can leave landlords in a state of needing to clean up and repair the damage left by the former tenant. Tenants often leave behind garbage that needs to be removed, but the unit needs to be cleaned in the right way. Cleaning costs can be deducted from the security deposit per California Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines.

Is the Property Abandoned?

How can you determine if the property is abandoned? In California, you need to make sure the tenant’s tenancy was terminated. If the tenant was evicted, or they moved out due to an eviction, the lease has been terminated. If the lease or rental agreement has ended, and the tenant moved out prior to that date, the tenancy is terminated. If the tenant moved out voluntarily and the tenancy is terminated, it is deemed abandoned.

Notification of an Abandoned Property

California landlords need to meet different requirements when it comes to abandoned property notification.

Inventory personal property and store it in a safe location. The property left behind needs to be secure and safe and then send notice to the owner and let them know when you will dispose of the property if they do not come and pick it up. California has created several templates to use that do contain all the information needed. The templates need to include:

  • Description of the abandoned property
  • Location of where the former tenant can come and claim their property
  • Timeframe in which a tenant can claim the property
  • Costs of storing the property for the tenant and the costs they must pay before they can receive their property
  • Statement of when the property will be disposed of if it is not claimed by the specified date

Landlords can mail the tenant the information to their last known address, or deliver it in person or via email. California states that you must store the property for 15 days if you personally deliver the notice and 18 days if you mail the information. If the tenant does claim the property in 48 hours, they do not need to pay anything to reclaim their property.

How to Dispose of Abandoned Property

When a tenant fails to come and claim their property within a given timeframe, landlords can sell the property at auction. Landlords must provide notice of the auction in the local paper with at least five days of circulation prior to going to auction. If the tenant comes forward for the property, they will need to pay for the storage costs.

Following the auction, the proceeds from the sale of property can be used to pay for the storage and advertising costs. Any funds left over must be sent to the treasury of the county to give the former tenant one year to claim the funds. If the value of the assets is less than $700, landlords do not need to sell the property; they can dispose of it legally or keep it.

Clear Lease Agreements

An important element of handling abandoned property is to clearly state what will happen in the lease or rental agreement. A property management company typically creates solid agreements that will address this information in detail. Review the lease agreement prior to disposing of property as the contract may say 30-days, not 15.

Keyrenter Property Management in Sacramento is responsible for handling tenants abandoned property in California for our clients. California law is different from other states, so it is vital to understand the different requirements property managers must meet when managing tenants.