Common Joe 'n Jane Real Estate Wiki

Real estate exam prep made easy! Dive into our wiki for key concepts and study materials tailored for success in your exams.

<--Back to Wiki Home
Bite sized definition logo.

Define Abandonment in Real Estate


Abandonment in real estate means when someone decides to stop using a property, like a house or piece of land, and shows they don't want it anymore. This can also apply to special rights connected to the property, such as the right to use a path on someone else's land (called an easement). By not using the property or the special rights and making it clear they want to give up those rights, the person is considered to have abandoned them.


In the real estate industry, an example of abandonment could be when a homeowner moves out of their house and leaves it empty for a long period of time without any maintenance or care. They stop paying property taxes and don't communicate with the neighbors or local authorities about their plans for the property. Over time, the house starts to deteriorate and becomes an eyesore in the neighborhood.

In this case, the homeowner has shown that they have no intention of returning to the property or maintaining their ownership. The local authorities may eventually decide that the property has been abandoned and take legal action to gain control of it. Once they have control, they might sell it, auction it off, or use it for a public purpose.

Illustration of a diver exploring the depths of the ocean. This image represents in-depth further learning in various real estate dictionary and glossary terms on our website.
"A Deep Dive for Real Estate Agents and Appraisers"

A few more aspects related to abandonment in real estate that you should be aware of:

Adverse Possession: In some cases, when a property is abandoned for an extended period, another person might start using it and eventually claim ownership through a legal process called "adverse possession." This typically requires the new occupant to use the property openly, continuously, and without the original owner's permission for a specific period, as determined by local laws.

Property Tax and Liens: When a property is abandoned, the owner might still be responsible for property taxes and other financial obligations. If these taxes are not paid, the local government may place a lien on the property, which can eventually lead to a tax sale or foreclosure.

Maintenance and Safety: Abandoned properties can become safety hazards and eyesores if they are not maintained. Local governments may have ordinances in place requiring property owners to maintain their properties or face fines and penalties. In some cases, the government may step in to clean up the property and bill the owner for the costs.

Legal Requirements for Abandonment: The specific requirements for abandonment can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the type of property or rights involved. It is essential to understand local laws and regulations to determine what actions or lack of actions can be considered abandonment.

Reclaiming Abandoned Property: In some cases, the original owner of an abandoned property may have the opportunity to reclaim it before it is considered legally abandoned or before someone else acquires it through adverse possession. This usually involves taking steps to reassert ownership and control, such as resuming use, paying taxes, and fulfilling other obligations.

As you prepare for your real estate agent or appraisal exam, make sure to familiarize yourself with the specific laws and regulations related to abandonment in your area to provide accurate information and guidance to your clients.
Illustration of Dumb Ox mascot.

"Wit & Whimsy with the Dumb Ox: Unlocking Knowledge with Rhyme:"

In a land of homes and yards, there once was a house so sad,
Its owner left it all alone, and things began to go bad.

The grass grew high, the paint did peel,
And neighbors shook their heads, "Is this for real?"

The taxes went unpaid, no word from the owner came,
A sense of true abandonment, it was a crying shame.

For years it sat, so empty and gray,
The owner's intent to abandon, it seemed that way.

The town then stepped in, with a decision to make,
They took the house, for the neighborhood's sake.

They sold it off, to someone with care,
To fix it up and bring it back, this story we now share.

So in real estate, when a house is left alone,
It's important to remember, abandonment can be shown.

Invest in Your Future.

Buy Access Now!