Abandoned rental property or park home

Tenants sometimes abandon or leave a property without providing any notice. Before a landlord or park operator take any action, it is a good idea to check if the tenant has actually left. The tenant may have gone on holidays, into hospital, prison, or a residential/aged care facility. If you cannot contact the tenant, you can try contacting the neighbours and their next of kin (if known).

Circumstances of abandonment

The most common circumstances in which a tenant leaves a property and does not take their belongings with them, are:

  • tenancy has ended normally
  • tenancy has been terminated by a court order
  • tenant has been evicted by the bailiff
  • tenant has abandoned the property owing rent
  • tenant has been imprisoned, moved into a care facility or nursing home
  • tenant is deceased

Residential tenancy

Accessing the property

If you have reasonable grounds to suspect a tenant has abandoned the premises, you will probably want to check the security of the premises. 'Reasonable grounds' means the tenant has failed to pay rent under the tenancy agreement and at least one of the following has occurred:

  • uncollected mail, newspapers or other material at the premises;
  • reports from neighbours of the tenant indicating the tenant has abandoned the premises;
  • absence of household goods at the premises; or
  • disconnection of services such as gas, electricity and telephone to the premises.

Before you can enter the premises, you need to deliver the Form 12 - Notice to tenant of abandonment of premises to the premises and the tenant’s last known place of employment. If the tenant does not respond to this notice and tell you within 24 hours that they have not abandoned the property, you can enter to check and secure the property.

Terminating the tenancy agreement

If you do not need to secure the property and only want to end the tenancy, you are not have to issue the Form 12 first. To terminate the tenancy for abandonment, you have two options:

  1. Issue the Form 13 - Notice to tenant of termination if premises abandoned to the tenant. This notice advises that you suspect the premises have been abandoned and if the tenant does not respond or dispute the notice within seven days, the tenancy agreement will be terminated; or
  2. Apply to the nearest Magistrates Court for an order declaring the premises have been abandoned.

If you are unsure, a court order may be a better option to pursue as the tenant can challenge the notice of termination for loss or expenses through the Magistrates Court within 28 days after the notice was given.

Residential park home or site

If a tenant abandons rented premises without notice, the Residential Parks (Long-stay tenants) Act 2006 (WA) provides that the agreement has ended and a park operator can take control of the premises and possession of its goods, such as furniture, clothing etc.

Before doing so, the park operator must make certain that the premises have been truly abandoned.  The park operator must first have ‘reasonable grounds’ for believing the premises have been abandoned. 

There will be reasonable grounds if the tenant fails to pay rent and one of the following applies:

  • there is uncollected mail, newspapers or other material at the premises;
  • reports from neighbours of the tenant indicating the tenant has abandoned the premises;
  • absence of household goods at the premises; or
  • services such as gas, electricity and telephone services to the premises have been disconnected.

It is important for tenants to notify the park operator of any planned absence from the park for an extended period of time, such as going to hospital or going on an extended holiday. In these circumstances the tenant must make the appropriate arrangements for matters such as rent or other necessary payments.

Once the park operator has reasonable grounds for believing the premises have been abandoned, the following process must be followed before the park operator can take possession of abandoned goods.



Abandoned park home flowchart
Abandoned park home flowchart, by Consumer Protection

Has the tenant left goods behind?

There are procedures you must follow regarding abandoned goods at a rental property or park home.

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