Your tenant violated the lease. You followed the proper eviction procedure, it moved to court and you, as the landlord, got a favorable result. The sheriff successfully evicted the tenant from your rental property, but there is still a small problem remaining. The tenant left some of their belongings on your rental property.
How should you proceed? Removing a tenant’s belongings after an eviction isn’t as simple as just tossing them away. Regardless of their value, you must act in accordance with the law when handling their remaining possessions and personal property.
If you find yourself in that scenario, you must ensure that you provide the tenant with a fair chance to retrieve their property before disposing of it. If you fail to do so, you may find yourself in a legal battle that could result in financial losses.
The following is everything you need to know about the local laws should you find yourself with a tenant's abandoned property in the future.
What was the Legal Reason for the Eviction?
Upon inspecting the newly vacant rental property, you may find items that have been left behind. In order to proceed, you must first remember why the tenant moves in the first place and deal with what's left behind. Was it because of:
- Nonpayment of rent
- A lease violation
- Expiry of lease
- Illegal activity
Once you’ve identified the reason for eviction under the local laws, check your state laws to know what you’re responsible for regarding their belongings. In most cases, the sheriff will help direct you on what you can and can’t do with the abandoned property.
What do Nevada Laws say about Dealing with Items Abandoned by a Tenant After Eviction?
There are specific procedures that landlords in Nevada must follow when it comes to dealing with the abandoned property after an eviction. Consider the following possibilities:
- Landlords have a right to move their tenant’s belongings into a safe and secure storage location. You also have the right to levy the tenant fees for both moving and storing their property.
- Landlords are required to provide the former tenant with a chance to retrieve essential personal property from the abandoned property within a 5-day period. This can include things like clothing, baby formula, medication, and personal care items.
- Landlords are only legally responsible for storing their tenant’s belongings for a period of 30 days after eviction.
- Notify tenants in writing prior to disposing of the tenant's personal property after the expiry of the 30 days. Mention your intention to dispose of the tenant's personal belongings and include information like the property’s description, estimated value, the amount owed by the tenant, the period they have to claim their property, and what may happen if they fail to file a claim.
Landlords have the right to sell the personal property after 14 days since you notified the tenant of your intention to dispose of their property. Contact the local law enforcement if you need help removing what's left behind after a tenant moves.
You may then use the proceeds from the sale of their property to cover any money that the tenant owes you. This includes the cost of moving and storing their property. If any money remains, you’re to hold it in trust for a reasonable period and give it to the tenant if they request it.
How to Store and Dispose of a Tenant’s Belongings?
After the eviction process, you may be at a loss for what to do, especially if the tenant has left a lot of items behind. When it comes to removing the former tenant’s property, consider the following tips:
- Get rid of anything that is clearly trash. Jot down the expenses of doing this.
- Take a full inventory of everything after you’ve gotten rid of the trash. You may also want photographic proof of this in case the evictee comes back for their abandoned tenant property.
- Store the items either somewhere on the property or rent out a storage unit. But if you’re getting ready to re-rent the unit, strongly consider paying for a storage unit elsewhere after giving termination notice.
- Notify the tenant about where you are storing their items and how long they have to retrieve them. When giving the tenant legal notice, you may also want to let them know about the costs of doing so and that they are responsible for the payment.
When it comes to disposing of the items, the following are some tips to help you do it right:
- For some items, like a car, make sure to go down to the local police station and report it as abandoned property. They'll deal with abandoned property removal.
- Use the proceeds of the sale of any of the tenant's abandoned belongings to pay for costs that the tenant owes you on top of the security deposit, like unpaid rent
- Nevada law isn’t clear on what to do with any remaining funds. But to be on the safe side, hold the remaining funds in an escrow for a reasonable period of time and give them to the tenant if they request them.
How can Landlords Protect Themselves in the Future?
The best way to protect yourself against renting to a difficult tenant is by having a thorough tenant screening process in place. And while it may not offer 100% protection, it’ll help property owners to significantly lower your tenant eviction rate.
Make sure to screen tenants on the basis of their credit rating and income level, as well as employment and relevant criminal history, and rental backgrounds. Having a throughout screening process in place helps you land qualified long-term tenants.
In addition to doing this, make sure to add a clause to your lease agreement that covers potential situations such as the cost of disposing of abandoned property, how you’re going to store any abandoned property, and for how long.
Following an eviction, it’s possible that a tenant will leave behind personal belongings. Knowing how to properly store them is vital. With these tips, you’re better positioned to address the situation should it arise.
For expert help in this regard, turn to the property management experts at Evolve Nevada. Whatever help you need in managing your investment property, rest assured we’ve got you covered. Contact us today to learn more about our services!