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Abandonment provisions authorize the premature termination of a contract, and occur through various scenarios within real estate.
California real estate law permits landlords to use abandonment as a reason to terminate the lease of a tenant. Most lease agreements contain provisions which state the length of time a tenant has to pay rent before a landlord can claim abandonment.Generally, If a tenant falls behind on payments more than 14 days, the landlord can draft and send a letter to the tenant of the intent to evict the tenant.If the tenant does not respond to the letter within 15 to 18 days, the landlord has the right to terminate the lease.If the landlord sends the letter using certified mail (confirmed with a receipt of arrival from the post office), the tenant has 15 days to respond to the letter. If the landlord sends the letter using standard mail, the tenant has 18 days to respond to the letter.If the landlord establishes abandonment of the property, the landlord can:Lease the property to another tenant
Open the doors of the property without violating the tenants right of privacy
Obtain legal representation to recover rent that has not been paid
Leased property that is abandoned by the tenant of a lease can be confiscated by the landlord. Common actions that are inconsistent with continuous use of property include:Lessee fails to make rent payments
Lessee removes personal property off property
If lessee files a change of address with the post office
In the three scenarios above, the land owner has the right to assume use of property.
Abandonment of a Prescriptive Easement
The granting of the easement occurs if the party claiming the property has used the property for five continuous years. If the party that holds the easement right abandons the property for five years, his or her right to the easement terminates.
Abandonment in Insurance Contracts
Insurance contracts can have abandonment provisions as well. If a homeowner’s property becomes severely damaged or destroyed (i.e. from a fire), and the cost of refurbishing or rebuilding outweighs the total property value, then the homeowner is allowed to abandon the property while recovering compensation from the insurance company. The property is then taken over by the insurance company.
Abandonment in Bankruptcy Proceedings
A trustee in a liquidation bankruptcy may elect to abandon a debtor’s property. If a particular property is of low value or rife with encumbrances, thus not worth selling off, the trustee may choose to abandon that property. The trustee would then have to file a notice of abandonment, which may be challenged by a creditor who believes the trustee has made an inaccurate evaluation of the property’s worth.
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