A renter is generally considered to have abandoned a property if they move out but they either have not been given a notice to vacate, or they have not given the rental provider (landlord) a notice of intention to vacate. In other words, they have not been told to leave, or have not told the rental provider they are going to leave.
If a rental provider or agent thinks a renter has abandoned the property, they can make sure the property is secure. For example, they could lock the doors and windows.
If the rental provider or agent wants to inspect inside a property they think has been abandoned, they must still follow the rules for entering a property. They should use the [Notice to renter of entry][Notice to renter of entry to rented premises] to rented premises and deliver it personally to the renter or send it by mail. To avoid potential disputes, it is best to send this notice by registered mail.
Late or unpaid rent does not necessarily mean a renter has abandoned the property. Read more about late or unpaid rent.
Ending the rental agreement (lease)
If a rental provider or agent believes a renter has abandoned the property, they can apply to VCAT to declare the property abandoned, which would end the rental agreement (lease).
VCAT will hear the case within 5 business days. The rental provider or agent may need to give VCAT evidence that the renter has abandoned the property. This could include photos of the abandoned property or evidence that the renter has stopped paying rent.
Goods left behind
If a renter leaves behind goods when they abandon a property, the rental provider or agent can dispose of some goods but must store others. Read more about what to do with goods left behind.
Pets left behind
If a renter leaves behind pets when they abandon a property, the rental provider or agent should immediately contact RSPCA Victoria.
Forms you might need
To give a renter notice of a property inspection, use this form:
Renting law reforms
Victoria introduced new language as part of reforms to renting laws in 2021.
- Landlords are now called rental providers
- Tenants are now called renters
- Leases are now called rental agreements.
You can read about these and other changes in a summary of the reforms or in detailed fact sheets and guides.
Sections of the Act
If you want to know what the law says about renters abandoning a property, you can read these sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997:
- Section 91ZG – Order of Tribunal that premises are abandoned
- Section 142O – Termination by abandonment