Moving to a new house can be a stressful time, and the hand over between landlord and tenant can be quite tricky as the tenant needs to negotiate not only with their old landlord but their new one. With the best of organisation sometimes items get left behind.
Likewise, if you are dealing with an abandonment you might not know where the tenant has gone, but you do know where all their stuff is. However, it might come happen a landlord can quickly find themselves in charge of any number of the tenants possessions.
Legally referred to as ‘Chattels’, it might be tempting to get rid of any items left behind after the end of the tenancy, after all if the tenant wanted them wouldn’t they have taken them with them?
Why should I keep things the tenant has left behind?
The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 states that a landlord or agent has a duty to retain the possessions left at the property. If a landlord fails in their duties a tenant may apply for compensation for their losses. So, what should you do if the tenant has left a goods behind?
One: What has been left behind? make a detailed list of the goods at the property, make sure you have a witness with you, Take photos and/ or video. Make sure this is date. If you can get a witness to countersign list.
Two: Contact the tenant. If you can write to the tenant, sending any letters recorded and 1st class Post (get proof of posting). Use Next of Kin, alternative address from Deposit Protection. Consider using a ‘No Trace No Fee’ agent.
Three: Let the tenant know what is going to happen next, send a copy of your list to the tenant and tell tenant how long you will store for. Tell the tenant how they can contact you to arrange collection.
Four: Store Possessions securely, a reasonable time usually a between 21 and 30 days or up to 3 months
- Don’t assume it’s all just rubbish
- Just throw everything out and hope for the best
- Pile everything up outside ‘for collection’
- Don’t leave it for the next tenant to deal with
- Give the items to anyone else to collect/ dispose of, unless specifically instructed by the tenant (in writing)
What can I do to protect myself?
Make sure that your tenancy agreement contains a clause stating that all belongings should be removed at the end of the tenancy.
- Make sure you have alternative addresses, emails or telephone numbers for the tenant.
- Take a deposit, if you need to pay to clear out belongings you can keep part of the deposit to cover this.