Can I change the lock after my tenant moves out if she hasn’t given me the keys yet?

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Can I change the lock after my tenant moves out if she hasn’t given me the keys yet?

My tenant gave a 30 day notice stating the last month will be her last in the house. She sent me a text stating that she wouldbe moving out on the 30th, and would be finished at 7 pm. I asked my son to go pick up the keys. He got there at 6:45 pm and left at 8:30 pm. The tenant never showed up. He looked in the window and saw that she still had things in the house. My son and I called her and sent her text messages but she never responded. She still owes me back rent for 2 months and now she has the keys to the house and garage.

Asked on October 1, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If there are belongings still in the rental unit where it looks as though the tenant has not fully moved out, I caution you against changing the locks to the unit just now. I would make every attempt to contact her via telephone and e mail to confirm whether or not she has actually moved out or not due to belongings left behind.

I would send her an e mail asking for confirmation in the next 48 hours as to whether she has fully moved out or not in that there are belongings of hers still in the unit. If she does not respond in the 48 hour time period, I would send her another e mail stating that you deem her to have vacated the unit and the items left behind are deemed abandoned where she needs to pick them up by a certain date stating that the locks will be changed since she has not given you the keys back to the rental. Keep a copy of the transmission for future reference.

Good luck.


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