Q & A: If property is abandoned, does landlord need to evict?
January 1, 2007
Q: I have a Tenant who signed a stipulation for entry of judgment after proper notice and summons/complaint for unlawful detainer for nonpayment of rent. Tenant moved out three weeks ago and left a few items of clothing in the apartment. I’m unable to contact former tenant. Do I still need to proceed with eviction (paying court costs for the stipulation to be entered for judgment, along with paying for a writ of possession to sheriff) before cleaning apartment and changing locks? Does it matter if the tenant moves out, but leaves a few items behind? –Thanks, Mark P.
A: If it is obvious that the tenant has abandoned the property, you can take possession and deal with the property left according to California law. You probably do not have to file an eviction. “Obvious” means that either:
1. the tenant has returned the keys to you, or
2. a neighbor tells you that the tenant has moved out because the tenant told him or her he was moving, or
3. the tenant has not lived in the property for whatever period of time is required by California law (14 days in many states), or
4. the utilities have been turned off by the tenant, or
5. the tenant has indicated a forwarding address. There may be some other situations that would indicate abandonment, but those are the usual ones.