As a landlord or letting agent, what do you do if your tenant disappears? Tenant abandonments can cause a lot of hassle and complications for those managing the property, so if it happens to you, it’s best to be prepared.
If a tenant is expected of abandoning, the landlord or letting agent will need to place a notice of abandonment at the rental property. We explain what this means, the responsibilities involved and how we can help with our abandonment notice service.
Tenant Abandonment: The Facts
Tenant abandonment is the term given for when a tenant leaves your property before the end of the tenancy agreement without notifying you (the landlord or letting agent).
In the case of abandonment, whoever is managing the property needs to ensure the tenant has permanently vacated the property before they can rent it out again.
Rent will still be owed until the end of the tenancy or until the property is let out again.
Issues for Landlords
If your tenant abandons the rental property, this can cause several problems;
- Loss of rental income
- Risk of vandalism and lack of security at the abandoned property
- Abandoned properties can result in higher insurance premiums
- If tenants leave possessions behind, these become the responsibility of the landlord to safeguard
What is an Abandonment Notice?
If you believe your tenant has left the property before the end of the tenancy, you need to place an abandonment notice.
An abandonment notice is a written statement that must be displayed in a prominent, accessible position on the property informing the tenant that the locks have been changed and where to find a replacement key if they wish to return.
It should give the tenant a limited time to get in contact and request a new set of keys.
By completing an abandonment notice, you are protecting yourself from being accused of unlawfully evicting the tenant.
What is Considered Property Abandonment?
Tenants are obligated to inform their letting agent or landlord if they plan to leave their rented property for more than two weeks. The tenancy agreement should include this clause as a form of protection for residential landlords.
Landlords and property professionals need to act cautiously, as under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, the tenant is entitled to return to the property within the tenancy period. If the tenant decides to return and the property has been let to someone else, this could constitute a criminal offence on the part of the landlord.
Without obtaining a lengthy and expensive court possession order, the tenant is still legally the occupant- even if they are in rent arrears.
This means you need to be certain that the tenant has permanently vacated and surrendered the property before re-letting or entering the property.
Landlord and Letting Agent Responsibilities
In order to ensure you are not making an unlawful eviction, if your tenant appears to abandon the property there are steps that must be taken;
Before letting the property to someone else or changing the locks you must first ensure the tenant has surrendered the property.
Firstly, try to contact the tenant to establish whether they are surrendering the tenancy. If you can get written confirmation from the tenant and they return the keys, you are safe to go ahead and re-let the property.
If you cannot get a hold of the tenant check if;
- The tenant has stopped paying rent
- The tenant has removed their belonging
- The tenant has left the keys at the property
- The neighbours have seen the tenant at the property
Housing and Planning Act 2016: Abandonment
If you can ensure that your property has been abandoned, and your tenant is in rent arrears you are now able to take back possession of your property under the Housing and planning Act 2016.
In this case, you can place a written warning at the property requesting rent repayments. If the first warning is ignored, a second warning notice is required. If the tenant still fails to respond, a third and final notice must be displayed. If this is also ignored, the landlord can take repossession of the property.
Can I Enter an Abandoned Property?
If you believe your tenant has abandoned, you can only enter the property if;
- It is in a vulnerable state and you need to secure the property by changing the locks
- There is any danger to neighbours (e.g. regarding the electric or gas supply)
There is damage that needs urgent repair
That’s where we come in. Our clerks can act as independent witnesses and help with the abandonment notice process, informing the tenant the locks have been changed.
What Should an Abandonment Notice Include?
There are certain elements an abandonment notice should include;
- Written notice that you believe the tenant has abandoned the property. Don’t forget to include important dates such as how long the property has been empty
- The full name, address and contact details of both the landlord and tenant
- A section asking anyone who knows the tenant’s current location to contact the landlord or property manager
- An agreed date by which the tenancy will be assumed abandoned or surrendered by the tenant (if the tenant fails to make contact by this date)
- A section recommending the tenant seeks legal advice
- The name of the independent witness
No Letting Go’s Abandonment Notice Service
In the event that either a landlord or letting agent places an Abandonment Notice up at a property, it is vital that someone attends the property on a regular basis (ideally every 3-4 days) to ensure the notice is still in place. We offer an abandonment notice service whereby we will visit the property as instructed to ensure the notice has not been removed or displaced and to report on the security of the property.
No Letting Go are dedicated to providing professional and unbiased property inventory services from the start of tenancy to the end. From appraisals and right to rent checks, to property inspections and maintenance reports – we’re here to help you protect your investment.
Discover how we could help by browsing our full list of property inventory services.