When the Tenant Abandons: What Are a Landlord’s Obligations?

A landlord’s obligations after their tenant leaves the property depend on the circumstances surrounding the departure. If the tenant abandons the property without notice, the landlord must comply with certain laws relating to the tenant’s property and mitigating any damages by attempting to rent the property to another tenant.

A.R.S. § 33-1370 requires that a landlord send a certified letter to the tenant’s last known address notifying them that their personal property will be disposed of if they do not pick it up. The landlord must give the location of the property, and give the tenant ten days to pick it up. If the tenant responds before the property is disposed of, the landlord must give the tenant five days to pick up the property. The landlord can require the tenant to pay them any costs associated with storing the property, however.

If the tenant never responds or comes to get the property, the landlord can sell the property after ten days. If the tenant owes the landlord money, then the landlord can keep the funds to cover sale costs and then applied to unpaid rent and other charges. Any extra money received for the property beyond what the landlord is owed must be mailed to the tenant at their last known address.

Note that the sale of a tenant’s property is only permitted if the tenant has abandoned the property. A landlord cannot seize the tenant’s property at any time just to retrieve money for back rent or other debt owed by the tenant.

The landlord must take reasonable efforts to rent the dwelling unit to a new tenant at a fair rental price. If the landlord finds a new tenant, then the previous tenancy is deemed terminated on the date the new tenancy begins. If the landlord does not make reasonable efforts to rent the dwelling unit to a new tenant at a fair market price, then the landlord may not be able to seek payment for future rent that was unpaid by the vacating tenant.

A failure to comply with the obligations imposed under Arizona law could expose the landlord to liability for improperly seizing the tenant’s property, and the tenant may be able to collect damages from the landlord.

Chernoff Law handles real estate litigation matters throughout Arizona. Contact us by calling 480-719-7307 to discuss your real estate matters.