What To Do When Kitsap County Tenants Go (But Stuff Stays)

The Joseph Group Nov 2021

Ian Joseph

“Clients first!” – is a huge part of the DNA that Ian Joseph and his Team have established at The Joseph Group. This motto helps them focus on striving for the highest level of customer experience, for their clients (landlords) and customers (tenants). In fact, Ian strongly believes that in life, family and business, you must strive to give more than you receive. “You can have everything in life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." - Zig Ziglar

Updated July 8, 2022.

When tenants move out, it's often common for them to leave belongings behind. While it might seem strange, renters are known to leave clothing, furniture, dishes, and even cars behind when they leave a rental home

This can be a hassle for rental property owners, who may need to figure out what to do with the tenant's belongings and how to handle the situation legally. So before you toss everything out or try to sell items online, follow these Kitsap Peninsula property management tips to deal with things that renters leave behind.

1. Talk With Your Lawyer

It's always best to speak with an attorney when dealing with legal matters such as this. A lawyer can help you understand the lease agreement with the tenant and your options for dealing with the left-behind belongings. 

turquoise small vintage car parked in a dark private garage (R) (S)

In some cases, assuming a tenant isn't coming back or no longer wants those items can be a legal mistake—even if they left without notice or under bad terms. Removing the items without following the law or the counsel of an attorney can lead to a lawsuit if the former resident comes back to claim belongings that are no longer there. On the other hand, if a renter moved out at the end of their rental agreement and simply forgot a few things in a closet, they'll probably want them back. 

2. Try to Connect With the Tenant

If possible, try to contact the tenant and ask them what they would like done with their belongings. Depending on the circumstances, this can be challenging if the tenant doesn't leave any forwarding contact information. 

However, reaching out to the resident may be the easiest solution for everyone involved if you can get in touch. A property owner can ask them to come to pick up their belongings, arrange a time for them to do so, or have them mail you a shipping label so you can send the items back. If the tenant has already moved out of state or country, this process may be more difficult, but it's worth trying. 

3. Follow the Lease Agreement 

If you're dealing with nonpayment of rent or a rental abandonment issue, it might not be a good idea for a disgruntled former renter to come to get their stuff. It can also lead to legal problems if you remove items while the lease is technically still active.

When a tenant doesn't respond to your attempts to reach out or doesn't want their belongings, you may need to take legal action to terminate the lease agreement. This means following through with eviction procedures and serving the tenant with a legal notice for nonpayment of rent or rental abandonment so they can't claim later that their belongings were taken or disposed of illegally without prior notice. 

This notice can include a list of items and descriptions, plus a record of the attempts to connect them and reunite the renters with their items. 

4. Remove the Items (Properly)

When you determine that a renter isn't coming back and doesn't want their items, rental owners can work with a lawyer to remove them according to the law. While it's essential to be patient and make every effort to reunite the items with their owner, it's also critical to work through the process as quickly as possible to get the rental home listed and occupied with a new renter. That means the stuff left behind must go!

Packed household goods for moving into new house (R) (S)

property manager suggests contacting law enforcement to deal with a car left in the driveway since it's now an abandoned vehicle. Call a professional waste removal service for large amounts of trash or unsanitary conditions. Items that have value can be sold to help a property owner recover lost rental income--but work with your attorney to follow the law regarding selling property that isn't yours and compensating yourself for nonpayment of rent. 

5. Start Looking for New Tenants

When you've finished following through with all aspects of terminating the lease agreement and removing items properly to start the make-ready process, it's time to start looking for new tenants to fill that vacancy as quickly as possible. Kitsap Peninsula property managers can help you remove traces of the previous resident and get the Port Orchard property ready for new tenants. The right property management companies can also post a high-quality listing and screen prospective tenants to ensure your next renter sticks to the lease and pays rent!

A Kitsap County Property Management Team Can Help!

Sometimes tenants are challenging enough without leaving items behind after moving out of a rental unit. Without the right help, dealing with abandoned belongings can prolong vacancy times and leave property owners without critical rental income. 

The best Kitsap Peninsula property management company understands the laws and has the resources to deal with stuff that tenants leave behind. If you're ready to reduce vacancy times and experience better quality tenants, The Joseph Group can help! Reach out to learn more about our residential property management services.

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