08/07/2024

Eight Things to Consider if a Tenant Abandons Your Rental

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Property abandonment is a rare but complex issue that, if mishandled, can get a landlord in legal trouble.

So, let’s look at the key things to consider if a tenant abandons your rental without notice.

What is abandonment?

When a tenant leaves a rental before the end of their contract (usually without notifying the landlord), it’s called abandonment.

If a landlord suspects their tenant has ‘done a runner’, then it’s important that they follow these tips.

Talk to an expert

If you think you’re dealing with tenancy abandonment, speak to a professional (your letting agent or lawyer) about next steps. Many well-intentioned landlords slip up because they don’t understand the law.

Don’t act impulsively

If a tenant is late with their rent and doesn’t respond to your calls and emails, you can’t just let yourself into the property to see what’s going on. By law, you must give notice of an inspection, and the tenant needs to agree to the visit.

Keep an open mind

Don’t jump to conclusions. The tenant may have slipped away to avoid rental or repair bills. Or they may have been in an accident or had a family bereavement and intend to return.

Be thorough

Write to the tenant at any contact addresses you have for them (last known address, next of kin, etc.). Ask them to confirm in writing that they’ve moved out. Speak to neighbours, local authorities and anyone else who could shed some light.

Record-keeping

Keep a note of your attempts to track down your tenant. It’s vital to have evidence to demonstrate you’ve made a concerted effort to find them.

Accessing the property

You can enter the property without tenant approval in some circumstances. You can act if there are signs of abandonment (for example, unpaid rent, no possessions at the property) and safety concerns (such as a gas leak, flood or fire).

Take a witness

If you go into the rental to address a safety issue, take a witness and leave an abandonment notice explaining that you intend to change the locks. (Contact us before you take this step, as there’s a lot of detail here to consider.)

Notice of abandonment

Before you can regain possession, you need to demonstrate that you’ve made exhaustive efforts to contact the tenant. There are rules regarding how many notices of abandonment you must serve and how much time you give a tenant to respond. Speak to a lawyer or letting agent before you go down this route.

As you can see, there are many facets to managing tenancy abandonment. The above guide is an overview of key issues but does not constitute legal advice.

To ensure you follow the law and avoid any messy legal comeback, get a professional to guide you through the process.

This post was written by:

Steven Herd

Steven's extensive 30 years of estate agency experience in London culminated in launching MyLondonHome, which has enabled him to bring together a hand-picked team to provide the high level of quality advice, market strength and service he is renowned for.

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