Authorization and Release vs. Notice of Abandonment Forms

Purpose
The purpose of the Authorization and Release by Tenant form is to provide a document on which you can rely to have the tenant sign and authorize a variety of things. The most common use of the form is to allow the tenant to authorize via his signature that he is abandoning all unit contents. 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; and for the tenant to acknowledge that he has received all of the contents that you had seized under your chapter 59 lien.

With regard to the Notice of Abandonment, the purpose of this form is to help solidify your position that the tenant has abandoned items in a unit, a decision usually reached when you have cut a lock to do a foreclosure inventory, and to acknowledge that the “abandonment test” in the TSSA lease has been met. If you can declare the unit as abandoned, this eliminates the necessity of having a foreclosure sale. If a tenant has abandoned the unit, it means that the tenant has relinquished all rights to the contents in the space and that the facility may remove any lock, enter, remove and/or dispose of all of the contents.

In short, the primary difference between the two forms is who is initiating the action. The tenant is signing off on abandonment by signing and sending back the “Authorization and Release” form. Perhaps the tenant is agreeing to abandonment in exchange for something (for example, the forgiveness of some or all of his outstanding debt). In you are using the “Notice of Abandonment” form, you believe that the tenant meets the legal definition of “abandonment” in the TSSA lease (the most important test being that the unit contains nothing of value to the ordinary person), and you are giving the tenant one last chance to dispute this belief.

How to Use
Regarding the Authorization and Release form, there are five checkboxes, each one used for different circumstances, and the basic scenarios for which you would use this form are described on the form. Let’s briefly cover each of the five checkboxes:

If Checkbox 1 is checked and the tenant fills in the name of an individual listed as an emergency contact in Paragraph 1 of the TSSA lease, and the tenant signs the form, 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 who is entitled to access. The tenant might ask you to let a friend in, and you would be wise not to merely rely on a tenant’s oral request, but rather to have the request in writing. You could use Checkbox 1 for just this type of scenario.

If Checkbox 2 is checked and the tenant signs the form, 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.”

If Checkbox 3 is checked and the tenant signs the form, either the tenant or the person who is acting for the tenant and who is named in Checkbox 1 of the form 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 into his unit to clean it out for him.

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 which you had seized under your Chapter 59 lien. He is also acknowledging that all the contents are in the same condition as 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 all sums due and remove all of his things at the same time.

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, the tenant has agreed in writing that he abandons all property left in his space after a specified move-out date. So, after that date, you have the peace of mind knowing that you can enter the unit and throw anything away or give anything to charity and lease 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 leaves 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.

Getting the tenant to “sign off” on abandonment is safer, so to speak, than presuming abandonment based on the definition in TSSA Lease Paragraph 26, but sometimes the tenant cannot be reached, in which case you may want to use the “Notice of Abandonment” form.

Tip for Use
Make sure the Authorization and/or Release is fully executed and signed by the tenant, and it is always a good idea to compare the signature of the tenant on the form to the signature on the lease.

Notice of Abandonment
Regarding the Notice of Abandonment form, there are two situations under which you can lawfully treat a space and the contents within it as “abandoned” under Paragraph 26 of the TSSA Rental Agreement. In the first situation, the following three factors must be present:

(1) The tenant must have given you written or oral move-out notice;
(2) The tenant’s lock must have been removed from the space (if the space is lockable) by someone other than Lessor; and
(3) The move-out date or termination date must have expired.

The second situation is when all of the following three requirements are met:

(1) The tenant has not paid rent or other sums due;
(2) The tenant’s lock has been removed (if the space is lockable) by someone other than you, or has been removed by you when exercising a statutory seizure; and
(3) The tenant’s space contains nothing of value to the ordinary person.

If all three parts of either of the above two “tests” are satisfied, you may consider the unit and the contents as abandoned. You are not required to send a Notice of Abandonment form as a condition of declaring a unit abandoned under the lease, but as a courtesy, and as an additional “insurance policy” against someone later claiming that the items had value, TSSA legal counsel recommends that you send this notice to the same address (or addresses) that you would normally send a Chapter 59 Notice of Claim, prior to declaring a unit abandoned and cleaning it out.