An abandoned property with tenant belongings stockpiled outside the property.

In the realm of legal and property matters, understanding various notices and their implications can be crucial. One such notice that holds significance, especially in the context of property and being a landlord, is the ‘Notice of Abandonment’. 

A notice of abandonment will leave landlords unsure of whether or not the tenant will return, causing frustration and confusion. Here, we take a look at what a Notice of Abandonment is and what landlords can do when one comes through. 

What is a Notice of Abandonment?

A Notice of Abandonment or apartment abandonment notice takes place when a tenant or occupant leaves the property before the end of the tenancy agreement or when it is contractually appropriate to do so. This usually occurs without the landlord’s knowledge. In some cases, tenants leave their possessions behind, too, which no doubt can be extremely confusing. 

A Notice of Abandonment is a formal communication used by landlords to address situations where it appears that a tenant has abandoned the rental property. This notice serves as a preliminary step before landlords can legally repossess their property.

What happens when you suspect a tenant has abandoned the property?

There are a number of things that will happen if you suspect that your tenant has abandoned your property, including: 

  • The need to sort out their abandoned possessions
  • Your landlord’s insurance may be implicated, and restrictions might be introduced
  • Your empty property may be at risk of being broken into
  • You’ll be losing your rental income until you find your tenant, or you can rent it out to someone else

Why tenants abandon properties

The truth is that there could be many reasons why a tenant has decided to abandon your property. Life happens, and sometimes crises arise that are out of your tenant’s hands. For example, they may have been subject to a terrible accident and may be in a hospital somewhere, unable to contact you. 

But there are also, at times, more sinister reasons why a tenant would decide to abandon your property. If your tenant has a history of not adhering to rules and regulations, then you may guess why they have decided to leave the property. This is especially true if they have taken their belongings with them. 

When should you consider issuing a Notice of Abandonment?

The decision to issue a Notice of Property Abandonment should be based on clear indicators that suggest the tenant has left the property without giving notice to you or intending to return. Common signs of abandonment include:

  • Non-payment of rent: If the tenant has not paid rent for a significant period and has not responded to attempts at communication.
  • Vacant property: The property appears empty, utilities have been disconnected, and there are no signs of occupancy.
  • Non-occupancy: The tenant has not been seen at the property for an extended period, and neighbours or property management have noticed the prolonged absence.

An empty house.

Steps to issue a Notice of Abandonment

The first thing to note is that tenants are legally required to inform you if they are away from the property for more than two weeks; however, according to the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, tenants will still be legally protected by the act and will maintain occupancy rights. So, you need to be 100% sure that filing a notice of abandonment is the appropriate step to take. 

Issuing a Notice of Abandonment involves several key steps to ensure compliance with legal requirements:

  • Verification: Confirm the tenant’s absence through reasonable efforts such as visits to the property, contacting emergency contacts, or checking with neighbours.
  • Document everything: Keep records of attempts to contact the tenant, any unpaid rent, and evidence supporting the belief that the property has been abandoned.
  • Drafting the notice: The Notice of Abandonment should include the tenant’s name and address of the rental property, details of why you feel the tenant has abandoned the property, and a deadline for the tenant to respond to the Notice of Abandonment before further action is taken. 
  • The second notice: If the tenant has not responded to your first notice, 
  • Delivery: Serve the notice to the tenant either in person, by post (recorded delivery), or by email (if permitted under the tenancy agreement).

The first notice

The initial notice should be prominently displayed inside the property. It’s important to state clearly that you believe the property has been abandoned and that you intend to change the locks and take possession. Make sure to send a copy to any other addresses you have on file for the tenant. The exact details of your responsibilities under the law are outlined in the relevant legislation.

Include the date you believe the property was abandoned, the intended date of lock change, and the notice issuance date. Don’t forget to provide contact details so the tenant can reach you if they return unexpectedly.

It’s wise to document this process thoroughly. Consider taking photos of the notice and even a video of you posting it through the door. These can serve as evidence later, if needed.

There’s no strict rule on how long to wait for the tenant to respond, but it’s crucial to be reasonable. Remember, if the tenant does show up during this period, they have the right to remain on the property. Acting hastily and re-letting the property before being sure the tenant has abandoned it can lead to legal complications, including accusations of unlawful eviction.

Second warning notice

If you receive no response to the first notice and the conditions (such as unpaid rent) are met, you can proceed with a second notice. This should be issued between two and four weeks after the first notice. Repeat the key information and state clearly that you have not heard from the tenant.

Unpaid rent condition

To issue the second warning notice, landlords must meet the unpaid rent condition. This condition is satisfied under the following circumstances:

  • If rent is paid weekly or fortnightly, and at least eight weeks’ rent is outstanding
  • If rent is paid monthly, and at least two months’ rent is overdue
  • If rent is paid quarterly, and one quarter’s rent is more than three months overdue
  • If rent is paid yearly, and three months’ rent is more than three months overdue

It’s important to note that if the unpaid rent condition is fulfilled but the tenant makes a payment before the second notice is issued, the condition is no longer considered met.

Third warning notice

If there’s still no contact after the second notice, you should post a third notice visibly on the property’s exterior. However, there are specific requirements for this notice:

  • It can only be issued eight weeks after the first notice.
  • It must be posted within five days of the response deadline specified in the notice.

What happens after issuing a Notice of Abandonment?

After serving the Notice of Abandonment, landlords should wait for the specified period to allow the tenant to respond. If the tenant does not respond to or contest the notice within this period, landlords can proceed with repossessing the property and terminating the tenancy. Here’s a reworded version in a conversational tone:

It’s crucial for landlords to adhere to legal guidelines and the terms outlined in the tenancy agreement when issuing a Notice of Abandonment. Failure to do so could result in legal disputes or delays in repossessing the property.

How does landlord insurance help?

There are many reasons why having landlord insurance is a good idea, and having to file a Notice of Abandonment is one of them. Besides landlord insurance protecting you while your tenants live on your property, it also ensures that if tenants decide to abandon your property, you will have the safety of being able to pursue them for any missed rent due to the landlord insurance covering any legal costs associated with this. 

For more information on the best landlord insurance quotes for you, contact our team of experts today at 01788 818 670.

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