How to Manage Trash Left Behind by Renters

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By the CIC Blog

Its Monday, again… I open the door to my office, throw my coat on the back of my chair and stick a coffee cup under the Keurig.  Then, I walk over to the drop box to collect the keys from my renters who have moved out over the weekend. With just two apartments, I think to myself “I can get these units inspected and have the cleaning crew in by Tuesday.” I take my freshly brewed java onto the elevator up to the third floor and unlock unit 3-B. I push the door open and a big bag of garbage is waiting right there in the middle of the room to greet me. “Perfect,” I think to myself. Well, garbage would have been “O.K.” but once I get inside the unit, I spot a few other items left by Mr. and Mrs. Former Renters. These scenarios happen all the time. From garbage to old furniture, these are just a few of the common items left behind by renters.  But what you can do in these situations?

  • Garbage

Many leases provide the renter must leave the apartment clean, but that rarely happens.  There are always at least one or more bags worth of trash strewn throughout different rooms. It might be frustrating and sometimes “gross” depending upon what kind of trash it is, but this is by far the easiest item to deal with. No red tape, no documentation, just a little elbow grease to get it out to the dumpster and the trash is a distant memory. 

  • Mattresses and Old Furniture

For whatever reason, renters always seem to have one or a few of these things they leave behind. Perhaps they are planning to purchase newer ones, or they assume the landlord or superintendent can use it or donate it. Maybe its broken, and they just don’t want to carry it out to the dumpster. Either way it’s your problem now.

If it is broken and unusable, it is considered trash so you can discard it. If it’s usable, take a picture and document it on your post-inspection check list.  Typically, one call or an email to the previous Renter asking if they are coming back for it or if they don’t want it will clear this up.  If they are coming back for it, you must make it absolutely clear that you are not a storage facility, and if they do not return within a reasonable amount time (dictated by you), you will deduct “X” amount of dollars per day for storage from the security deposit. 

  • Jewelry

One earring, a broken bracelet, a necklace tucked inside the back of the medicine cabinet…in my experience, jewelry is never left behind on purpose. Take a picture and document it.  Keep it in the office safe or other secure place and send a certified letter and / or make a phone call to report the jewelry to your former renters. 

No matter what a Renter leaves behind it is always important to take pictures and keep an accurate list. Something that appears to be trash to you may not be garbage to them. Notify them via phone and certified mail if you have a forwarding address. Email can be used too. Include guidelines (they vary by state so check with your municipality) and fees for storage. Ultimately the goal is to make everything clear from the beginning and let them know what will happen to the items if they are not collected.

This article was originally published for The Contemporary Information Corporation Blog by a guest contributor.  CIC is the preferred tenant screening service of the Apartment Investors Club.  For more information, please go to  Proper, upfront tenant screening can save you thousands of dollars down the road.