Authorization and/or Release by Tenant

The purpose of the Authorization and Release by Tenant form is to give you a document which you can rely on, that the tenant can sign and return to you, in which the tenant authorizes a variety of things. Probably the most common use of this form is to obtain a written statement from the tenant that he is abandoning the contents of the unit. However, the form can also be used for the tenant to give you authorization for a third party to act as his agent; for the tenant to give you permission to cut his lock; for a tenant’s acknowledgement that all of the contents have been removed in good condition; for the tenant to acknowledge that he has received all of the contents that you seized under your chapter 59 lien; and for the tenant to permit you to have a key.

When to Use
There are five checkboxes on this form, and you would check each box under different circumstances, so the basic five scenarios under which you would use this form are described in checkboxes 1-5 on the form.

If checkbox 1 is checked and the tenant fills someone’s name in the blank in paragraph 1, the tenant may sign this authorization and return it to you and you can rely on it as authority to allow the person listed to enter the space, remove all contents, abandon the property and execute releases on behalf of the tenant. You might use this when the tenant has moved, is in jail, or is otherwise unavailable and there is no one else on the lease that is entitled to access. The tenant might ask you to let his friend in, and you would be smart not to rely on a tenant’s oral request, but to have the tenant put his request in writing. You could use checkbox 1 for just this type of scenario.

If checkbox 2 is checked and the tenant then signs the authorization form and returns it to you, the tenant has authorized you to cut his lock and consented to pay for the lock cutting charges outlined in paragraph 4 of the TSSA lease. This might happen when a tenant comes into your office and says “Gosh, I’ve lost the key to my lock and I have no way to get into my unit.” You will want to confirm he is who he says he is, and then for added protection it would be smart to get the tenant to sign this Authorization and/or Release form with checkbox 2 checked so that you have written evidence that the tenant specifically asked you to cut his lock for him and agreed to pay the lock cutting fee.

If checkbox 3 is checked and the tenant signs the form and returns it to you, the tenant or the person who is acting for the tenant and who is named in paragraph one of the form (see the description for checkbox 1 above) is confirming to you that all the contents have been removed from the tenant’s space in good condition. You might want to use this checkbox, for example, if the tenant requests that you let someone in his unit to clean it out. The person who cleans out the tenant’s unit should then sign this authorization form with checkbox 3 checked to confirm that everything has been moved out in good condition. Otherwise, there is the potential for the tenant to claim that items were left behind, that his friend didn’t finish moving everything out, etc.

Checkbox 4 can be used when you have seized (overlocked) the unit for non-payment of rent and the tenant later pays in full and moves his things out of the unit at that time. If checkbox 4 is checked, the tenant, or the person who is authorized to act for the tenant, is confirming that he has received all of the contents of the tenant’s space which you seized under your Chapter 59 lien. He is also acknowledging that all the contents are in the same condition as they were at the time of seizure. You may want to use this part of the form when you have overlocked the unit and the tenant comes in and wants to pay and move all of his things out at the same time. As a condition of letting him out of his lease early (he has not given you the requisite ten days notice), you could require him to sign this statement that all of the goods are there and they are in the same condition as they were at the time you seized them. This could be important and helpful to you down the line because you do have some potential liability for any damages to the goods that happened during the time that you had your overlock on the unit. So getting this written statement from the tenant that the contents were not damaged during your overlock is nice peace of mind for you.

Checkbox 5 deals with the tenant’s statement of abandonment of his contents. It is probably the most widely used provision in this authorization form. If checkbox 5 is checked and the tenant signs the authorization and returns it to you, the tenant has agreed in writing that he abandons all property left in his space after a certain date. That date is filled in at the bottom left hand corner of the form. So, after that date, you can have the peace of mind to know that you can enter the unit and throw anything away or give anything to charity and re-let the unit to a new tenant; otherwise, sometimes you play a guessing game of “Is this trash or is this someone’s treasure?” with the items the tenant left behind. Or, this can be useful when you have seized the unit and opened it to inventory the unit and it looks like there is nothing of value in the unit. If the tenant is delinquent on his rent, it may be a good business decision for you to try to strike a deal with the tenant and tell him that you will forgive all or part of the rent in exchange for him simply agreeing to abandon the unit and let you clean it out.

Tips for Use
Whether it is the tenant signing on his own behalf, or another person signing who has authority to act for the tenant, make sure that this form is signed and that you get the printed name of the person who is signing it. It would be a good idea to compare the signature of the tenant on this Authorization/Release form to the signature of the tenant on the lease to make sure that it is the same person. Always keep a copy of all correspondence in your files, but especially something as potentially important as this. I recommend that you try to keep copies of all your files for at least four years (four years is the statute of limitations for breach of contract claims.) If that is not feasible, at least keep a copy of all of your files that had unusual procedures (such as foreclosures, overlocks, release forms signed, etc.) for four years if at all possible.