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When Can A Landlord Legally Declare Tenant Has Abandoned Premises?

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? TEXAS

I rented an apartment to a couple. First time experience as a landlord and probably last.
Over a period of several months they acquired four large dogs and against our requests kept them inside creating a kennel smell and ruining the carpets. They became two months delinquent on rent and finally we had to post an eviction notice on their door. After they came and discussed the situation with us, we mutually agreed that they would move out by the end of the month and we would not go forward with the eviction proceedings. The end of the month came, they still were not moved out, and for the next thirty days, we watched them slowly pack boxes and move them to a storage facility. They still have personal property in the rental unit but we have not seen or heard from them in nearly three weeks. Can we legally declare the premises abandoned and remove their property they've left behind? I can't seem to find in the property code a designated time frame the landlord must wait before considering the place abandoned. I want their things out of there. Also, if there are items of any value left behind, is the landlord allowed to keep these items such as furniture, T.V.'s, small appliances, etc?

If you can help me with this I sure would appreciate it so I can proceed with cleaning the place up.


Senior Member
If It were me I would go ahead and take them to court for unpaid rent since they are still in possession of the unit. The other suit would be after they are out for the damage. BTW make sure you do your deposit disposition letter with in the timeline in your state. AND take pics to show the damage. Dont let one rotten tenant get to you , get even with them using the courts , they deserve it. Next time around be quicker about lease violations like pets and do a notice to cure the problem and when the tenant corrects it like say a pet in violation of a lease then go on in and inspect , correct the damage and send them a bill for the damage via confirmed mail telling them that the problem has eaten up x amount of deposit dollars and that they have X amount of time to replace the deposit money. If they do not then take them to court while still in possession of the unit and show the court your proofs of the damage , that you repaired it and they have broken the lease and you want the deposit money replaced or they have to leave. Many tenants are learning the hard way what it is like to try to rent a place after a LL has taken them to court. Many LLs no longer care why a tenant was taken to court by a LL they just reject the applications thinking if it happened once it will happen again.


Senior Member
First time LL or last time LL, all parties that enter into lease agreements should understand how to negotiate the terms and conditions therein. It is not enough to want to rent the premises for the financial benefits without knowing the laws that govern the lease agreement. With that said, no LL cannot declare the premises abandoned based upon their own say. The law defines abandonment on a state-by-state basis, if it is not defined within the lease agreement. (Texas for sure has laws on abandonment, not necessarily exclusive to housing/rental.)

The tenants should have been issued a Notice to Terminate or Notice to Cure Default when the first lease violation occurred (acquisition of FOUR (4) dogs). The local animal control or animal shelter could have been advised of the circumstance also to validate the lease violation.

A mutual agreement is put into writing to memorialize the terms and conditions and to acknowledge participation by all interested parties. The verbal “mutual agreement” was worth the paper it was not written on. Even with a written mutual agreement signed by all interested parties, the LL should issue the Notice to Terminate to ensure that tenants will vacate and to allow for the preparations to initiate eviction should tenants not vacate.

The tenants’ valuable are their belongs; removing those items is known as theft. This economy has turned PROPERTY OWNERS UNABLE TO SELL into pseudo-LLs and perpetual victims of professional tenants. Realize that your desire to rent for benefit of financial stability is only good if the money is paid. All LLs are expected to know what to do when the lease agreement is seriously violated. At the very least, contact an Eviction Attorney to initiate the process and to obtain a legal financial judgment.

For the record, LL can enter the premises by providing twenty-four (24) hours advance written Notice of Intent to Enter. The Notice of Intent to Enter can be posted and should also be mailed via USPS certified mail for recordkeeping. LL can also enter premises in cases of emergency, such as electric, plumbing, structural, etc. issues.


Senior Member

For the record, LL can enter the premises by providing twenty-four (24) hours advance written Notice of Intent to Enter. The Notice of Intent to Enter can be posted and should also be mailed via USPS certified mail for recordkeeping. LL can also enter premises in cases of emergency, such as electric, plumbing, structural, etc. issues.

Texas has no such statute.


Senior Member
Since the Texas Property Code does not define abandonment, it is up to either the individual lease or a judge to define it. It is important for a landlord to act carefully when declaring abandonment, especially if the lease does not define it. If nothing exists in the lease about abandonment and the landlord removes all of the tenant’s property, a court could consider it to be an illegal eviction in violation of the tenant’s rights. This, of course, would be judged on a case-by-case basis.

Abandonment is defined under the TAA lease as when:

1. Everybody appears to have moved out in the landlord’s reasonable judgment;
2. Clothes, furniture, and personal belongings have been substantially removed from the dwelling; and
3. No one has been in the dwelling for five consecutive days while the rent is due and unpaid.
A dwelling is abandoned 10 days after the death of a sole resident.

The TAA lease continues: abandonment ends the tenant’s right of possession for all purposes and gives the landlord the immediate right to clean up; make repairs; relet the dwelling; determine any security deposit deductions; and remove property left in the dwelling. See also ATC’s Security Deposit Law brochure.

NOTE: This is only the definition of abandonment from the TAA lease; other leases may have different definitions. A landlord must abide by the terms of the lease signed with the tenant.


Senior Member
I love Texas.

Wish every state had this. This site even has alist of what you can and cannot take.Austin Tenants’ Council/Landlord’s Lien

What Is a Landlord’s Lien?
Texas law gives a landlord a lien on a tenant’s non-exempt property for unpaid rent that is due. If a tenant is behind on rent and a written lease gives the landlord permission to exercise this lien on the tenant’s property, the landlord may enter the rental unit and take non-exempt property to secure payment of the delinquent rent. The clause giving the landlord permission must be underlined or printed in conspicuous bold print to be enforceable. The property must be in either the tenant’s residence or in a storage room for a landlord to seize the property. A storage room includes an attached garage or a shed. Any provision in the lease that purports to waive or diminish a right, liability, or exemption of a lien is void. In other words, a section of your lease that tries to give up or lessen a right, liability, or exemption of a lien is not valid.

Alaska landlord

Senior Member
Me too.

Never give a sucker an even break, it will cost you money.
you should have started the eviction process the day after they were late.
change the locks and clean out the place.!
Don't give anything back until the rent, storage and cleaning fees are paid!


Junior Member
Thanks to all of you who have responded thus far. You have been very helpful. Still have heard nothing from former tenant. This has been a valuable lesson in the importance of a clear, concise, and proper lease agreement. Before all this we somewhat considered these people as friends but have learned a valuable lesson about renting to people you know and conducting business with verbal agreements and handshakes. There was a time when you could do that but no more. We are going to proceed with the necessary legal action to put an end to this situation.
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