How important is the tenant notification of an extended absence? Should the lease require a notification? What if the tenant doesn’t cooperate?

Unless prohibited by statute, your lease agreement should require the tenant to provide you advance notice of the tenant’s plan to be absent from the rental unit for a period of time expected to be longer than XX number of days. In some states the issue of tenant absence from the premise is specifically addressed by statue including the period of absence. Unless specified by statute, the number of days of consecutive absence may be determined by the landlord according to the perceived risk of an unoccupied unit. Many landlords use a period of 7 consecutive days or more of absence before requiring advance notification. You should research your state’s landlord-tenant statutes to determine your policy and required lease language.

In general the tenant’s notification to you of an extended absence from the rental unit provides a measure of safety and security for you, the tenant, and tenants in neighboring units of a multi-family property in the event of an emergency situation requiring access to the unit or determining the whereabouts of a tenant. As a duty of care to your tenants, you should have some knowledge of whether the tenant is in residence, on vacation, or has abandoned the premises. While winter weather conditions are usually of most concern to landlords regarding potential damage to unoccupied units, any time a unit is vacant or unoccupied for a period of time, there can unexpected incidents of damage – i.e., plumbing failures – which could be of consequence to the tenant, the tenant’s personal property, and the property itself.

A lease clause should always provide you the authority, as agreed to by the tenant, to enter the premises during the tenant’s absence in order to maintain the property as reasonably necessary and to inspect for damage and need for repairs. However, there should be legitimate business necessity to enter the rental unit to protect the property from damage. A true emergency is an event that threatens life or causes property damage if not immediately corrected. As a landlord you should use both caution and common sense to evaluate a situation for emergency entry. Fire, flooding, or an event caused by a natural disaster might be considered legal justification for emergency entry.

Some states allow a landlord to recover money from the tenant for incurred general or specified damages if the tenant fails to provide the legally required notice of an anticipated extended absence to the landlord.

Comments are closed.