Questions from Property Managers – How can you tell if the tenant is really gone?


Today’s question comes from one of our faithful readers, a fellow Nevada property manager, and a valued guest contributor, Bob Frenchu. Bob writes:


“When do you decide the tenants are out of the property?


Let’s say you’ve served a 5-Day Pay or Quit eviction notice. Noon of the fifth day rolls around, the tenants aren’t answering their phone. You drive out to the property to check to see if they’ve moved out of the premises. You knock, get no answer, open the door and find: 


(a) the house is full of furniture, no signs of packing, stew is cooking in the crock pot. Or….

(b) beds are gone, but there is an old ratty couch, some end tables, and the fridge is full of food. Or…

(c) furniture is gone, but there are still clothes scattered on the bedroom floor. Or…

(d) The unit is perfectly clean, ready to rent again (ha ha)


Option A  and Option D seem pretty obvious, but at what point does one decide a lockout isn’t necessary?”


This is a great question, and one that comes up regularly in my property management classes. At what point do you take possession of the property? My recommendation is, when in doubt, get a lockout order from the court. Is there any reason not to go for the lockout? Perhaps, you’d handle this situation differently. Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment on the blog. And, thanks for reading!




2 Replies to “Questions from Property Managers – How can you tell if the tenant is really gone?”

  1. In California there is a legal procedure that provides a safe harbor. The landlord serves or mails to the property a Notice of Belief of Abandonment. The Notice gives the tenant the right to notify the landlord that they still are in possession, but must give the landlord an address at which they can be served a UD complaint. After 15 days if personally served or 18 days if mailed, the landlord can take possession. There is also a Notice of Belief of Abandonment of Personal Property to give the landlord a similar safe harbor to dispose of personal property left behind without being accused of stealing the property, or being held liable for its value by the tenant.

    Janet Fogarty, real estate attorney in the SF Bay Area.

  2. Thank you for reading and commenting, Janet. When handling personal property, Nevada property managers have “safe harbor,” provided they safely store tenants’ property for 30 days, and give a minimum of 14 days written notice of their intent to dispose of the property (residential tenancies). In terms of real property abandonment, the law is a bit vague, providing that we can ‘assume’ the real property has been abandoned if the tenant has been absent from the property and delinquent in rent for at least 1/2 the rental period. That’s why I typically recommend a lockout order, in all cases.

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