Abandonment of a rental unit

Residential Tenancies Act – Abandonment Of A Rental Unit Or Apartment Guideline For Landlords

Your Tenant has apparently abandoned the rental unit, the neighbours haven’t seen the Tenant for weeks, the mail has been left uncollected and you are wondering what to do….

Your first point to consider is section 79 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 which states that:
If a Landlord believes that a Tenant has abandoned a rental unit, the Landlord may apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an order terminating the tenancy.
Section 79 of the Residential Tenancies Act is discretionary and it will depend on your individual circumstances whether you will need to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an order. However, there is a considerable risk in re-renting the rental unit without such an order unless it is absolutely clear that the Tenant has vacated the rental unit and does not intend to continue the tenancy. If you are unsure it is in your best interest to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board and have it decide this issue.

Factors to help you decide whether the rental unit is abandoned:

  • The Tenant is in arrears (please note that  the Landlord and Tenant Board has no jurisdiction to issue an order for rent compensation if a Tenant is no longer in possession of the rental unit and you will have to recover the arrears in Court);
  • Mail has not been collected;
  • Neighbours or other tenants haven’t seen the Tenant for some time;
  • Other tenants or neighbours have seen a moving truck taking items from the rental unit;
  • The Tenant has told you or another tenant that he is moving out;
  • Utility services are switched off.

The above factors are guidelines only and may not be conclusive on their own. You should make reasonable efforts to contact the Tenant.

What to do with the Tenant’s belongings left in the rental unit:
Pursuant to section 42(1) of the Residential Tenancies Act the Landlord may dispose of the Tenant’s property found in the unit only if one of the following conditions are met:

1.    The Landlord obtains an order terminating the tenancy pursuant to section 79 of the Residential Tenancies Act;
2.    The Landlord gives notice to the Tenant and to the Landlord and Tenant Board of his intention to dispose of the property.
If either of these conditions has been met the Landlord may immediately dispose of anything unsafe or unhygienic.
You must wait thirty (30) days after either option 1 or option 2, before you can dispose of any other belongings in case the Tenant returns to claim them.
If the Tenant claims his belongings within the 30 day period he must pay any arrears and reasonable storage expenses.
If the Tenant doesn’t claim his property within the 30 day period you are at liberty to sell his belongings. The Tenant has six (6) months  from the date of option 1 or option 2 to claim the proceeds of the sale. You are allowed to deduct arrears and reasonable costs incurred in storing and selling the Tenant’s belongings.
The foregoing article is for general information purposes only.
Please contact our office for specific advice in your particular circumstances, your rights under the Residential Tenancies Act and before the Landlord  and Tenant Board.