I pay rent every two months in advance on my apartment. I was away for six weeks in South America and I forgot to tell my landlord I was going to be away. However, I had paid my rent for those weeks. When I got back I found that my landlord had thought I had abandoned the apartment and the things that were left there. He had come in and was sorting through my stuff. Is he allowed to do this?
No. Before your landlord decides that you have abandoned the premises, he should consider all the circumstances very carefully. If you had paid your rent for those weeks, then that was a strong indication that you had not abandoned the property, and he is not entitled to be selling your possessions. The same would be true if you had been detained in jail or in hospital.
Other circumstances a landlord may wish to consider before treating the property as abandoned might include
- whether the tenant had been seen recently around the property;
- whether the phone and utilities are still hooked up;
- whether the mail is being picked up by anyone;
- whether there is furniture or clothing left in the apartment; and
- whether there is food, particularly in the fridge.
I have been having some financial problems and did not pay my rent last month. I went to stay with my sister for a short while to get myself straightened out. My landlady left a 14-day notice on my front door that the tenancy agreement was over because I had not paid my rent. My sister loaned me some money and I went over to pay the rent to the landlady today, which is the 13th day of the notice period. I found my landlady sorting through my stuff. She said she was looking to see what she might have to sell. Can she do this?
No. Your landlady can only sell your property if it has been abandoned. She should have waited at least until the 14-day notice period was over. If you pay the rent that you owe before the 14 days is over, the termination notice has no effect.
Your landlady should not even have entered the premises until the notice period was over. Even after the 14-day notice period, she might have wished to be cautious and posted a 24-hour notice on the front door, stating that she was going to enter the property.
This page was last updated in October, 2011.