Navigating the Vacant Unit Dilemma: A Landlord’s Guide to Responsibly Handling Tenant Departure

Navigating the Vacant Unit Dilemma: A Landlord’s Guide to Responsibly Handling Tenant Departure

  • George Brown Professional Corporation

If a Tenant does not give notice that he or she is leaving, but the Landlord believes the Tenant left the rental unit, the Landlord should make a reasonable effort to contact the Tenant to determine whether the Tenant has left.  If the Landlord is unable to reach the tenant the Landlord should apply to the Board for an order ending the tenancy.

As a landlord, discovering that your rental unit is vacant without receiving formal notice from the tenant can be a challenging situation. Uncertainty may surround the reasons for their departure, leaving you wondering about the next steps to take. In this blog, we’ll delve into what landlords should do when faced with such a scenario, ensuring a fair and responsible approach.

  1. Verify Tenant Absence:
    • Before taking any action, confirm that the unit is genuinely vacant. Reach out to the tenant through various communication channels, including phone calls, emails, and written notices, to ensure there hasn’t been a miscommunication.
  2. Document Communication Attempts:
    • Keep a detailed record of all communication attempts with the tenant. This documentation can be valuable in case of disputes or legal matters down the line.
  3. Check Lease Agreement:
    • Refer to the lease agreement for any specific clauses related to tenant departure and notice requirements. Understanding the terms of the lease will guide your actions and decisions.
  4. Inspect the Property:
    • Conduct a thorough inspection of the property to assess its condition. Look for any signs of abandonment or unauthorized subletting. Document the state of the unit with photographs and notes.
  5. Secure the Property:
    • If it’s confirmed that the tenant has vacated the unit, take steps to secure the property. Change locks promptly to maintain the security of the premises.
  6. Notify Utilities and Service Providers:
    • Inform utility companies and service providers about the change in occupancy to prevent any potential issues or disruptions. This includes water, electricity, gas, and internet services.
  7. Review Local Laws:
    • Familiarize yourself with local laws regarding abandoned property and tenant rights. Some jurisdictions may have specific regulations that dictate the steps a landlord must take in such situations.
  8. Send a Formal Notice:
    • Issue a formal notice to the tenant acknowledging their absence and requesting confirmation of their intention to vacate. Specify a reasonable timeframe for their response.
  9. Consider Legal Advice:
    • If the tenant remains unresponsive, it may be prudent to seek legal advice to ensure you are following the correct procedures. Legal professionals can provide guidance on the appropriate steps to take in your specific jurisdiction.
  10. Document Everything:
    • Throughout the process, maintain detailed records of all interactions, notices, and actions taken. Having a comprehensive paper trail is crucial in case legal intervention becomes necessary.


Handling a vacant unit without formal tenant notice requires a delicate balance between respecting tenant rights and protecting the landlord’s interests. By following a systematic approach, communicating clearly, and adhering to legal requirements, landlords can navigate this situation with transparency and responsibility. Always prioritize open communication and, if needed, seek professional advice to ensure a fair and lawful resolution. Call us or meet us on Zoom if you need any legal assistance.

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