A Tenant Signs the Lease and then Vanishes. What do you do?

  • theRRD
  • Posted on June 24, 2015
  • Posted in Property Management
  • Comments Off on A Tenant Signs the Lease and then Vanishes. What do you do?

The prospective tenant passed your background check, they were very welcoming in the showing, and really everything looked great when you signed the lease.  But then when move-in day comes, nothing happens.  The tenant is nowhere to be found.  Plans can change on a dime.  Below are suggestions on handling and preventing cases like these.


If you have already signed a lease with a tenant, it is a binding contract and you must go through the same legal process as any other tenant. This will be a unique circumstance since the tenant is not presently occupying the unit and may not see the notice on the door.  Post the notice there anyways.  You don’t know if the tenant will return or not.  You as the landlord need to make every attempt to clearly communicate the 3-day notice to pay rent or quit.  This means not only posting a notice on the door of the property, but also emailing, making phone calls, and any other possible form of communication you have at your disposal.  After this period of time, and you have established that the unit is vacant, you then will be able to go back to putting the unit on the market.

Can I enter the property to check that the tenant is there?

You must first provide a 24 hour notice before entering a unit.  This will simply extend the timeline to getting the unit filled with a paying tenant. If you haven’t received the rent payment on the day it was due, simply make the 3 day notice to pay rent or quit and go from there.

A Common Mistake:

A lot of landlords make the mistake of signing the lease and then agreeing not to receive payment until the day the tenant is scheduled to move in.  If the tenant doesn’t move in, then you’ve wasted valuable time that could have been spent marketing your vacancy to other tenants.  You’re also out of revenue from the lease during that period of time that you are serving the notice to pay rent or quit and establishing that the unit is in fact vacant.

Preventative Measures:

It’s much better to have the tenant pay you a security deposit on the same day you sign the lease.  This allows you to anticipate the unanticipated.  If the tenant never moves in, that security deposit usually can mitigate the lost rent and cost of marketing during that awkward period of trying to notify the tenant to pay rent or quit.

** Always be sure to follow all proper procedures when handling a tenant.  Please be sure that any metric you use in review of an application must be applied to all applications to rent.  A comprehensive view of F.C.R.A. law and procedures can be found here.  Also be sure to follow all fair housing laws and not to discriminate based on race, gender, minority group, etc.  Please also observe local ordinances, which may supersede some federal laws. **