Disposing of goods left in properties after eviction

Disposing of goods left in properties after eviction

10:36 AM, 14th January 2016, About 9 years ago 8

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DEisposing of goodsIn most eviction cases tenants and squatters remove everything they own from the property – and sometimes plenty of items they don’t own!

But there are instances where the occupant has disappeared and left belongings behind. So where does that leave the landlord – can he dispose of them or does he have a legal liability to look after them?

Landlord’s legal obligations

The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 makes provision for abandoned goods under S12. The goods still remain the property of the tenant (referred to as the bailor) and the landlord (referred to as an involuntary bailee) has an obligation to take care of the goods and make reasonable attempts to trace the tenant to return the goods.

Selling the goods

Under S12 of the Torts Act, if the bailor breaks an arrangement to take delivery of the goods, or the landlord/bailee is unable to trace the former tenant/bailor, then the bailee is permitted to sell the goods, provided he gives notice and has taken reasonable steps to trace the bailor.

Sale is normally by auction and the bailee is permitted to deduct from the sale proceeds costs he has incurred, for example storage and sale costs. If there are rent arrears the remaining sum may be used to offset these provided the correct procedures have been followed.

Giving notice

There is a prescribed form of notice, which must:
– Be in writing either by registered post or recorded delivery
– Specify the name and address of the bailor and give details of the goods and the address where they are held
– State that the goods are ready to be delivered to the bailor
– The place of sale and the date on or after which they will be sold, as well as which costs will be deducted from the proceeds

The notice should also be attached to the property so it can be seen.

There is no set notice period, just that it should give the bailor reasonable opportunity to take delivery of the goods. 14 days is cited by some lawyers as being appropriate. However, if the bailee wishes to demand payment for items such as sale or storage charges, then at least three months’ notice is required (schedule 1, Part II – para 6).

Sheriffs Ofice

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Gary Dully

10:13 AM, 15th January 2016, About 9 years ago

Does this include soiled underpants, rotting food in fridges, used syringes and old prams?

Mandy Thomson

11:30 AM, 15th January 2016, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Gary Dully" at "15/01/2016 - 10:13":

Ha, ha - why would you want them, Gary?? 🙂

(Sorry, couldn't resist!!)

Mandy Thomson

11:37 AM, 15th January 2016, About 9 years ago

This also applies to lodger's abandoned goods. Reasonable attempts should be made to contact the lodger, preferably in writing (this can be email, text or even social media if no other means available).

The ex lodger can collect their stuff from the door or somewhere else if their former landlord would rather not let them in.


14:20 PM, 15th January 2016, About 9 years ago

What if you don't know the tenant's new address? What are "reasonable" attempts to find him or her? Are you, for example, expected to pay for a search (about £150)?

The timeframe of 2 weeks or three months if the landlord wishes to charge costs is completely at odds with the timeframe of 10 days for return of deposits, so the landlord's options for cost recovery are extremely limited. In my experience most tenants who abandon stuff are just too lazy to dispose of it themselves; abandonment usually goes hand in hand with unpaid bills and a complete failure to clean the property before moving out. The landlord, as ever, is the one left to pick up the pieces, in this case literally.

Mandy Thomson

14:24 PM, 15th January 2016, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Tony Atkins" at "15/01/2016 - 14:20":

Any contact attempts, even via social media if you don't have postal address, next of kin, mobile number or email.

Even communications such as text messages count as written if the original message can be copied and produced as evidence in Court.

Romain Garcin

15:04 PM, 15th January 2016, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Tony Atkins" at "15/01/2016 - 14:20":

Hi Tony,

I think it really depends on which costs your wish to recover. Arguably storage costs would require 3 months notice (a bit odd as that means costs will accrue for longer) but not sale or disposal costs.

Gary Dully

18:47 PM, 15th January 2016, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "15/01/2016 - 11:30":

Mandy, your a bit of a tease aren't you?

What happens with programs on the Telly such as "Storage Wars"?

They break into someone's storage locker because they haven't paid the rent on it, flog off the whole contents to a crowd of demented shriekers that make a living by trying to be as unpleasant to each other as possible, while some American guy shouts numbers, punctuated by his flapping top and bottom lips distorting what he is saying.

Can we not do that? As I reckon a legal precedent has been set.

Rob Crawford

8:33 AM, 16th January 2016, About 9 years ago

With DPS the deposit is not returned unless both parties have agreed any deductions. If the tenant still has belongings at the property the cost of disposal cannot be known as such I would claim the whole deposit. Alternatively just skip it and deny it ever existed!

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