Tips for Handling a Tenant’s Abandoned Property
Did your tenants just abandon your home, forgetting personal belongings and leaving your rental property a complete disaster? Unfortunately, this scenario is fairly common – especially here in Portland where the cost of living often can drive people away without warning.
When you’re faced with an abandoned property, it’s easy to feel discouraged and overwhelmed by the process that lies ahead. Ultimately, you have 2 choices:
- Spend the time and money needed to take care of leftover personal items, make repairs, and get the property ready to rent again (all while losing out on precious rental income)
- Skip all the hassle and sell the house fast for cash (we can help!)
It’s a choose your own adventure and there are a few important considerations you need to make along the way. Let’s begin!
Know the laws
In Oregon, there are strict laws outlining what actions you can legally take with regards to recouping unpaid rent, abandonment fees, and personal belongings. You should always consult with an eviction attorney before taking any action.
Here are the basics:
Oregon law allows landlords to charge the tenant an abandonment fee (up to 1.5x the monthly rent amount) if the tenant leaves the unit without cause under a fixed term lease. However, once the fee is charged, you may not recover unpaid rent beyond the date you became aware of abandonment. Additionally, you forfeit the right to recover damages related to the vacancy.
Under Oregon law, before you can store, sell, or dispose of a tenant’s abandoned personal belongings, you must give written notice to the tenant. There are specific details that must be included in this notice.
Once the notice is provided, you’ll need to wait 5-8 days, depending on the method of delivery of the notice, for the tenant to claim their belongings. This time period is 30 days for abandoned floating homes, recreational vehicles, and manufactured dwellings. If the tenant contacts you, you must wait up to 15 more days for the tenant to collect their belongings.
However if after providing the necessary legal notifications and waiting the appropriate time period the tenant has not collected their belongings, you may sell the items in a public or private sale.
As soon as your tenants have legally given up their belongings and forfeited their lease agreement, it’s time to choose your next steps.
To the right, you have…
- Selling the home in as-is condition (including the abandoned belongings) to a real estate investment company
To the left, the path is less simple:
- Clearing all the tenant’s personal items out of the home (if they’ve left anything) and selling or disposing of them according to the law
- Making repairs to the property
- Getting the home ready to rent (or to sell through a real estate agent) – making new locks & keys, getting necessary inspections, etc.
- Listing the property and screening applicants or considering offers, hoping you don’t have to deal with an abandoned property situation again!
Avoid creating a zombie house
Owning properties and managing rentals is a busy, time consuming, and sometimes expensive endeavour. Often, this leads an owner of an abandoned property to take a 3rd path – that is, simply leaving the house to sit vacant over multiple months (or even years). These types of home are often called “zombie homes.”
Throughout the US, 1 out of every 65 properties is vacant. And here in Portland, one estimate put the number of abandoned, vacant properties close to 430! Often, the reason for leaving the house vacant is because the owner can’t afford to make repairs or doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of managing renters.
Owning an abandoned house is risky and dangerous and it’s always best to avoid a zombie house situation. If you’ve been sitting on an abandoned property for a while and don’t know what to do, selling the abandoned house for cash is a great option.
The benefits of selling your abandoned property for cash
There are so many reasons why selling for cash is a better alternative than simply letting your abandoned house sit vacant.
Vacant homes are crime magnets. According to a 2017 report by Community Blight Solutions, vacant properties increase crime. In fact, analysis suggests that a vacant home can lead to roughly 19% increase in the number of reported crimes per year.
If squatters establish themselves in your vacant home and take care of the space, the squatter can secure a legal right to occupy the property. In fact, you could even end up losing the property altogether.
There are public health concerns that come with an abandoned property – especially one that is in poor condition. For instance, the space could become infested with mold, rats, or an unsafe foundation.
Eventual point of no return
When you let the abandoned house sit without proper care and maintenance, it will suffer property deterioration on a weekly basis. At a certain point, your abandoned property will be beyond the ability to repair in a way that makes sense, financially.
Even if your not maintaining the house, you can still be held liable for any injury that occurs on the property. For instance, if someone wanders into the house and gets cut by glass or breaks an arm slipping.
Through all this, you’ll have ongoing property costs to take care of like taxes and any mortgage payments. You may also have to deal with city violation fines for issues like unsafe structures, illegal use, unkempt yard, and so on.
Sell your abandoned property (in any condition) for cash today!
If you’re dealing with a property that’s been abandoned by tenants or sitting on a vacant home, we can help. Columbia Redevelopment is a local Portland real estate company and we’ve been buying and redeveloping homes in the area for 10 years.
We’ll make you a cash offer within 24 hours of visiting your property, deposit a $10,000 earnest money into your account to confirm our commitment, and close the transaction in as little as 2-3 days! Plus, there are never any fees.