What Landlords Should Do When a Tenant Leaves Belongings Behind in Your DC Property

What Landlords Should Do When a Tenant Leaves Belongings Behind in Your DC Property

Being a landlord in the nation’s capital often means dealing with leftover tenant belongings at the end of a lease or after an eviction has taken place. Whether or not a tenant has voluntarily left the property, people frequently leave behind items or trash that they don’t want to take with them when they move.

In your lease, you can require that the tenant leave the property in its original state before vacating, but some renters may not abide by this clause. What are DC’s laws for a tenant who leaves their property behind? Here’s what you need to know based on the situation.

For Renters Who Have Voluntarily Vacated a Unit

In Washington DC, there aren’t any specific laws for renters leaving their belongings behind who have either given notice of their intent to vacate the property prematurely or have chosen not to renew their lease. 

Therefore, as a landlord, you should detail what will happen to any remaining personal property in the unit in your lease after the tenant moves out. The contract can specify that all items will be immediately sold or discarded, or you can give your residents a designated amount of time to collect their things after the move-out date.

Whatever you decide to put in your lease is at your discretion, but be sure your renters are clear on what will happen to any belongings that are left behind before signing the contract.

Laws for Removing Property in the Event of an Eviction

If a tenant is evicted, there are different rules regarding belongings left behind during the process. In Washington DC, any personal property remaining in the unit once the eviction has taken place needs to stay in the unit for seven days, excluding Sundays and federal holidays. The exception to this rule is if the belongings are removed by the tenant during this time.

As a landlord, you are required to notify the tenant of any remaining belongings, their duty to remove said belongings, and the time period during which they may access the unit. If you choose, you have the right as a landlord to extend this amount of time for the tenant, but the minimum is seven days as required by law for an eviction.

For the full seven-day period after the eviction, you must allow the tenant to access the property and remove the belongings. Once the seven days are up, their items are considered to be abandoned, and you can dispose of this unwanted property without any additional communication with the former tenant.

When removing their personal property, you must do so lawfully. For example, you can’t put the belongings in an outdoor space (either public or private); you can only do so when in the process of moving the items. The evicted tenant is also prohibited from discarding the items in a public or private space.

Abide By DC Law and Your Lease Specifications

It’s essential that you honor your lease specifications and keep your actions in accordance with DC law when it comes to removing any leftover tenant belongings at your income property. Whether your renter has given their notice or is being evicted, follow the terms detailed in your lease for your occupants or, for an eviction, honor the seven-day period in addition to notifying the tenant before removing the belongings from the unit.

Let FAS Management Help!

When it comes to property management, handling leftover tenant possessions is just one of the many stressful aspects of the job. Let our professional team at FAS Management assess your property and give you a quote for our property management services in DC. Call us today at (202) 337-5080!

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