Commercial Businesses Abandoning Property

One of our students asked: Some commercial tenants have walked away from their business due to the Covid-19 situation, and left their property, what do I do with the stuff left behind? Since the Residential Landlord Tenant Act doesn’t apply in commercial situations, the control document is the lease itself.  If abandoned property is not addressed in your lease you should consider adding it. So one recommendation is to show you did the best you could, and made a good faith effort and followed the requirements in the Residential Landlord Tenant Act 

Landlord Tenant Act
Sec. 34.03.260. Disposition of abandoned property.
(a) Except as otherwise agreed, if, upon termination of a tenancy including but not limited to a termination after expiration of a lease or by surrender or abandonment of the premises, a tenant has left personal property upon the premises, and the landlord reasonably believes that the tenant has abandoned this personal property, the landlord may
(1) give notice to the tenant demanding that the property be removed within the dates set out in the notice but not less than 15 days after delivery or mailing of the notice, and that if the property is not removed within the time specified, the property may be sold; if the property is not removed within the time specified in the notice, the landlord may sell the property at a public sale; the landlord may dispose of perishable commodities in any manner the landlord considers fit;
(2) if the tenant has left personal property that is reasonably determined by the landlord to be valueless or of such little value that the cost of storing and conducting a public sale would probably exceed the amount that would be realized from the sale, the landlord may notify the tenant that the property be removed within the date specified in the notice but not less than 15 days after delivery or mailing of the notice, and that if the property is not removed within the time specified, the landlord intends to destroy or otherwise dispose of the property; if the property is not removed within the time specified in the notice, the landlord may destroy or otherwise dispose of the property; in the notice, the landlord shall indicate an election to sell certain items of the tenant’s personal property at public sale and to destroy or otherwise dispose of the remainder.
(b) After notice as provided in (a) of this section, the landlord shall store all personal property of the tenant in a place of safekeeping and shall exercise reasonable care of the property, but is not responsible to the tenant for loss not caused by the landlord’s deliberate or negligent act. The landlord may elect to store the property on the premises previously demised, in which event the storage cost may not exceed the fair rental value of the premises. If the tenant’s property is removed to a commercial storage company, the storage cost shall include the actual charge for the storage and removal from the premises to the place of storage.
(c) After landlord’s notice under (a) of this section, or otherwise, if the tenant makes timely response in writing of an intention to remove the personal property from the premises and does not do so within the time specified in the landlord’s notice or within 15 days of the delivery or mailing of the tenant’s written response whichever is later, it shall be conclusively presumed that the tenant has abandoned the property. If the tenant removes the property after notice, the landlord is entitled to the cost of storage for the period the property has remained in the landlord’s safekeeping.
(d) The landlord is not liable in damages in an action by a tenant claiming loss by reason of the landlord’s storage, destruction, or disposition of property under this section. A landlord who deliberately or negligently violates the provisions of this section is liable for actual damages and penal damages of an amount not to exceed actual damages.
(e) A public sale authorized under this section shall be conducted under AS 09.35.140 . The landlord may dispose of any property upon which no bid is made at the public sale.  

Sec. 34.03.360.   Definitions.

  1. In this chapter,
    1. “abandonment” means that the tenant has left the dwelling unit and the tenant’s personal belongings in it and has been absent for a continuous period of seven days or longer without giving notice under AS 34.03.150 and has defaulted in the payment of rent;

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