Scroll down

When Renters Leave—and Stuff Stays | Plano Property Management Tips

'Get into real estate and rent out your property,' they said. After all: the risks are low, and the profits are high! However, what happens when your renter deserts your rental? Plano property management companies and courts of law often manage disputes between investors and renters—and one of the greatest sources of contention surrounds possessions.

Keeping someone’s abandoned stuff can be a burden, and having it removed can be a headache and a half—but you can’t just throw it away, either. Perhaps you see something that you like, and you’re considering helping yourself; resist that urge at all costs. It’s your responsibility to ensure that these possessions remain safe, even if your renter has flown the coop.

Please note: This article is not legal counsel! When you need real-time assistance, reach out to RentHub Property Management or a skilled attorney.

What’s the 'Why' Behind All This?

How you decide to act will be determined by the reason for your resident's departure:

  • Did they simply desert everything out of the blue?
  • Whether they paid rent or not, you can’t hold those items hostage.
  • You also can’t demand a ransom of rent in exchange, either. 

Before you get rid of anything and get the ball rolling on the eviction process, it’s important to know which actions are legally sanctioned and which ones aren’t. The last thing you want is to have legal action coming your way. If you're unsure about how to proceed, consult a lawyer and figure out how to start from there.

Catalogue Everything 

It would do you well to keep a record of all the abandoned possessions your renter left behind.

  • Take good quality pictures and create a register for everything.
  • You wouldn’t want to be held responsible for damaging any of it, and this is a great way to avoid that.
  • Don’t worry about trash and perishable items, though: you’re free to get rid of those, and there’s no need to put garbage on your list.

Recycling Garbage

Sift Through the Stuff

Now that you have a list of everything left behind, you have to carefully deal with certain items. When it comes to furniture and other valuable items, you’ll probably need to involve the authorities. Vehicles are a whole other class of property that you don't want to have to wrangle.

  • If you consider your renter's car to be a piece of scrap, fine—but that doesn’t mean you can just haul it over to the junkyard!
  • Go to the police, give them every detail about the vehicle, and tell them where it’s currently located.
  • After the police have assessed the situation, they’ll have the vehicle removed from your property.

What if your renter decided they wanted to feel more at home, installing fixtures now part of the property? Unless your lease agreement clearly states what should be done about them, you might as well keep them. If they aren’t to your liking, you’re free to get rid of them.

Secure the Stuff

At this stage, you're well within your rights to start looking for another renter. If you’re lucky enough to have someone that wants to move in, you’re allowed to empty the property to accommodate them. Just be sure to screen them thoroughly to avoid a repeat of your last experience!

It’s important to keep your previous resident's belongings in a safe place—and you’ll do yourself a favor by having an unbiased expert watch you move everything. When you reach this point, it's worth it to bring in a Plano property management company to see if they can assist with the process.

  • Whatever money you spend, make sure there’s evidence of the expense.
  • Keep every single receipt so that you’re compensated adequately.

You can’t be expected to foot the bill for something that isn’t your fault.


Your renter is still a human being capable of logic and reason!

  • Go through their details and see if you can find a way to reach them.
  • When you do, you’ll have to write a notice about the deserted items.
  • You’d be smart to send more than one so they get the message!

Your notice must be detailed and comprehensive, including the list of items, information about where they are located, and the cost of storage.

  • Provide a date by which a pickup should be made.
  • You can give them a week or even four; just make sure you note this.
  • The more expensive the abandoned items are, the more time you’ll have to give them. 

Stressed housewife

Once again, knowing the law will come in handy—giving you an idea of how long you can keep the stuff before getting rid of it. If you talk to an attorney or expert Plano property management partner, you can find out exactly what to do and when to do it.

From here, you can start following the process set out in your lease agreement with regards to nonpayment and lease termination.

A Disappearing Act Calls for a Professional

No one signs up to have their renter disappear overnight—and if you’re not careful, you can easily feel overwhelmed by the repercussions thereof.

Take it easy, get some legal advice, and look for a new resident with the help of a professional Plano property management company who'll screen potential candidates on your behalf to avoid similar scenarios to what you're going through now. There’s no reason to bear the brunt on your own!

For more tips on protecting your rental property, get started with our free resource, Protecting Your Investment Property: A Guide!

Download Guide