Dealing With Abandoned Property – A Landlord’s Guide

By Lane V. Erickson, Attorney

I’ve represented landlords and tenants in Idaho for over 17 years. During this time I have seen almost every legal question that can come up dealing with an Idaho Landlord and Tenant relationship. One of the most common events that occurs is when a tenant abandons a rented property but leaves personal property behind. In this instance I often have Idaho landlords ask me what their legal rights are.

It is far better for a landlord to first understand the exact legal rights offered by applicable law and then seek to enforce those rights.  In almost every instance where an Idaho  Landlord has taken matters into their own hands they have only crippled their legal ability to accomplish their goal.  In addition, many Idaho Landlords are often themselves subject to court order and in some instances are required to pay monetary damages to the tenant when the Idaho Landlord takes the wrong actions. The only exception to this would be in the case of abandonment.

When an Idaho Landlord can show that his tenant has abandoned the premises, the Idaho Landlord has a right to secure the premises.  Proving abandonment is not an easy task.  Essentially the Idaho Landlord must show an objective basis or provide objective evidence that the tenant no longer resides at the premises.  Some factors that may show this are:

  • the tenant has not paid rent;
  • the tenant has removed most of their personal property from the premises;
  • the tenant has not responded to any communications by the landlord;
  • the landlord cannot locate the tenant or communicate with the tenant in any way;
  • written notices posted on the door are not removed; and/or
  • the landlord learns through other means (relatives, or friends of the tenant or other persons) that the tenant no longer resides at the premises.

When an Idaho Landlord can show objectively that the tenant has abandoned the premises the Idaho Landlord can then change the locks and secure the premises.  However, absent a showing of abandonment, the Idaho Landlord cannot take matters into his own hands and simply lock the tenant out of the premises.  Doing so may open the landlord up to an action for damages by the tenant.

If an abandonment has in fact occurred, I often instruct my Idaho Landlords to do everything they can to provide some sort of written notice to the tenant. This would include being able to talk with relatives or friends of the tenant to locate them so that this written notice can be provided.

The written notice contains an itemized inventory or description of the personal property that was abandoned in the premises. It can also include photographs of these items. Then there is a specific notice that the tenant has 30 days in which to come pick up these items from the landlord. The landlord will state that if the tenant does not pick these items up the landlord will consider them to be abandoned and will dispose of them in any way the landlord deems necessary.

By taking these steps, an Idaho landlord can immediately secure the premises.  Additionally, the Idaho Landlord then has the ability to dispose of any abandoned personal property left by the tenant.

Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Landlord and Tenant Law and Real Estate attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at We will answer your Idaho Landlord and Tenant Law and Real Estate questions and will help you solve your Idaho Landlord and Tenant Law and Real Estate needs.

This website includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer for advice on specific legal issues.

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