Property Abandonment: What are a Landlords options
Naturally, this is a frustrating situation, not only have you lost rental income but now you have the burden of cleaning the unit, disposing of any belongings the tenant left behind and finding a new tenant to occupy the unit as soon as possible. Now there are a variety of ways you can go about getting the rental income that has been missed from the missing tenant, however it is not always worth the hassle. So, if you are unsure what to do in case of a tenant abandoning your unit, or are currently trying to decide how to proceed, this is what you should do in order to manage it quickly and effectively.
How To Tell If a Tenant Has Abandoned Your Property
Prior to taking any action, you have to start by making sure the tenant has actually abandoned the unit and is not simply hard to reach, out of town or avoiding you while skipping payments. There are a few ways you can determine if a unit is abandoned.
First, as the property if you suspect your property has been abandoned, you should file an application with the RTB to determine that is the case. If the property is abandoned, you will have the option to separately apply to court to recoup any outstanding rent, but if the tenant has fully paid the rent, you will be unable to treat the unit until after the end of the rental period. This is because if the rent is paid, the property will not be considered abandoned, even if signs of abandonment are present such as uncollected mail and the absence of any possessions belonging to the tenant.
Should You Pursue the Tenant?
Once determined that the unit has been abandoned, you will need to decide if you would like to properly file for eviction and pursue any outstanding rental costs. While this may sound like an obvious next step, some landlords prefer to move on and forget about the outstanding costs.
When You Should Pursue Them
One of the most important times you should pursue the rent from a tenant who has abandoned your property is if they have caused significant damage to the unit. By filing for eviction and pursuing the rental costs, you are also opening yourself to then sue for the damages left behind which will help you cover the costs required to return the home to a market-ready state and it will allow future property owners to see what happened during their own tenant screening and background checks.
Getting The Property Back On The Market
After you have finished determining that your property has been abandoned and you have decided how to proceed with the tenant, it is time to get the property back onto the market. This process will vary on the condition of the unit and the presence of any abandoned property left behind by the tenant.
If the property is deemed abandoned, the landlord will either obtain a notice from the Landlord Tenant Board terminating the client’s tenancy or the landlord can give notice to both the tenant and the board that they intend to dispose of any remaining property after 30 days. Following this, the landlord will be free to immediately dispose of anything that could be considered unsafe or unhygienic, and after the 30 days conclude the property owner will be free to dispose of all remaining tenant belongings. If the tenant comes to claim their property, they will be considered liable for any outstanding rent costs as well as any reasonable costs to move, store and secure their belongings.
If the landlord decides to dispose of the tenant’s property by selling it, the tenant will have six months to claim the proceeds of the sale following the date they first received the order or notice. However, the landlord will be allowed to deduct outstanding rent costs and the costs of moving, storing and selling the property from the total.
If you have any questions about the process, feel free to reach out to the Residential Tenancy Branch.
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