What Happens When a Tenant Disappears Without Notice

Property Manager with HomePointe Property Management, CRMC 00691121

There are some occasions when a tenant will leave the rental unit without paying rent and without taking belongings.

In California if the rent goes unpaid and you think that the rental has been abandoned, you may enter the unit and proceed to clean up. Inspect the premises to determine whether or not the property has been abandoned: Is the refrigerator empty or has most of the food spoiled? Has electricity and telephone service been cut off? Check the closets and see if there is clothing left behind.

If the landlord determines that the unit has been abandoned, he/she may then take possession and proceed to prepare it for rerenting. The landlord is advised to follow the formal procedure outlined in Civil Code 1951.3 which requires waiting 14 days and then notifying the tenant of the suspected abandonment. A link to a copy of Notice of Belief of Abandonment is provided below. For how to deal with property left in a rental unit, please refer to Abandoned Personal Property. California Civil Code Section 1951.3

(a) Real property shall be deemed abandoned by the lessee, within the meaning of Section 1951.2, and the lease shall terminate if the lessor gives written notice of his belief of abandonment as provided in this section and the lessee fails to give the lessor written notice, prior to the date of termination specified in the lessor's notice, stating that he does not intend to abandon the real property and stating an address at which the lessee may be served by certified mail in any action for unlawful detainer of the real property.

(b) The lessor may give a notice of belief of abandonment to the lessee pursuant to this section only where the rent on the property has been due and unpaid for at least 14 consecutive days and the lessor reasonably believes that the lessee has abandoned the property. The date of termination of the lease shall be specified in the lessor's notice and shall be not less than 15 days after the notice is served personally or, if mailed, not less than 18 days after the notice is deposited in the mail.

(c) The lessor's notice of belief of abandonment shall be personally delivered to the lessee or sent by first-class mail, postage prepaid, to the lessee at his last known address and, if there is reason to believe that the notice sent to that address will not be received by the lessee, also to such other address, if any, known to the lessor where the lessee may reasonably be expected to receive the notice.


My next post will deal with what to do with the personal property.

Posted by

Robert A. Machado, CPM, MPM

HomePointe Property Management

Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado, and Placer Counties

We manage residential and commercial property.

916-429-1205 x 105



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Regina P. Brown
MBA Broker Consultants - Carlsbad, CA
M.B.A., Broker, Instructor

Robert, have never had this problem but have had tenants leave lots of junk behind.  It's incredible the way some people live.  Heck, after waiting the statutory "14 days", the house could permeate with the smell of rotten food!!!

Regina P. Brown

Mar 25, 2010 02:49 PM #1
Michelle Francis
Tim Francis Realty LLC - Atlanta, GA
Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease


Wow, haven't had that happen!  Would be tough to determine they were abandoning legally?  

Smell would really be an issue.  

All the best, Michelle

Mar 26, 2010 02:33 PM #2
Deena Cottingham
GreenApple Staging & Images, Calgary Staging & Photography - Calgary, AB
Home Stager & Photographer

I'm with Regina . . . haven't had it happen, but tenants do tend to leave an awful lot of crap after they "move out"!

Mar 27, 2010 11:35 AM #3
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

So . . . does this mean they are dead or in jail? I mean, why would a tenant suddenly vacate without taking possessions?

Mar 29, 2010 03:26 AM #4
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Robert Machado

CPM MPM - Property Manager and Property Management
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