Perhaps you've found yourself in the unenviable position of having a renter stop paying rent on your investment property. While some renters choose to stick around through eviction proceedings, others simply disappear at some point, leaving some or all of their belongings without tidying up the property at all. Chesapeake property management companies, thankfully, have worked through this challenging circumstance enough times to have set procedures in place, and they are ready to help you through the situation.
Consult a Lawyer on the Particulars of Your Situation
While Chesapeake property management may have insight into how past renter disappearances have been handled, you'll want to talk to a lawyer familiar with the renter's rights to make a plan for what to do next. Virginia's laws about abandoned property in a rental unit depend on whether the renter definitely was informed that their lease was terminated and that anything they left in the property was considered abandoned. You're only legally required to keep the property for 24 hours for them, or in some cases, for 10 days while attempting to notify the renter. Your legal counsel, however, can help you make sure you don't sell or donate any property left in the rental before it is legally possible to do so.
Reaching Out to Your Renter To Give Them the Chance to Vacate
Even if it is technically legal to clean out the rental yourself, it is often worthwhile to attempt to reach your prior resident and offer for them to come and get their stuff. Not only does it save you time and energy getting the items out, but they also are often not items that are easy to sell or get rid of at any kind of profit. If renters are willing to retrieve their items, make an appointment at the earliest possible time, and recognize that many rescheduled times may mean that they are not coming. Talk with your Chesapeake property management for more insights about when it makes sense to get in touch with the renter and when it could be a lost cause.
Follow Through With Consequences for Ending the Lease
Your lease is the blueprint for interactions between you and your property resident, so it should guide your choices when it becomes clear that your renter has left and will not return or pay rent on the property. You'll most likely need to notify them officially that the lease is being terminated for nonpayment, that their security deposit is forfeited if that is the case, and any other provisions you've made for breaking the lease early. The lease is the way to avoid letting the frustration of having a renter break your trust make you do anything rash or illegal, and following the lease as promised also helps you stay on the right side of the law.
Begin the New Resident Search Process
Even if it feels like you have a lot on your plate, once you have legally terminated one renter's lease, it's wise to start looking for a new renter immediately, so you have plenty of time to get applications and to screen thoroughly. While no one likes to have weeks of no rental income due to a vacancy, you'll be glad you thoroughly and legally screened the applicants. After all, this can help you avoid having a non-payment and surprise move-out in the future! Create a professional look for your listing and get it out in front of as many local prospects as possible, then make sure to run through full due diligence, checking past references from when they rented other properties and making sure they have a history of on-time payments. Your property manager has a lot of insight into the legal, thorough way to screen renters, so let them guide you.
A Great Property Manager Can Help With Renter Screening and Tough Situations
You can see the thread throughout this process is that a property manager can really smooth over some of the major challenges created by renters who disappear, leaving belongings behind. Whether you need them to recommend cleaners and junk removal teams in the case of a lot of leftover items or simply need their recommendation for how to interact with the renter to get their stuff moved out, your property manager brings a ton of experience to bear on each step of the process. They know how to walk the line, staying firmly in the legal right but also standing up for you and your property so that you get the value you want out of your investment. They'll also help you find a better next renter, someone whose track record shows them to be likely to stick around for the duration of the lease while making on-time payments. Learn more from our guide today!