Lodger’s possessions abandoned in my property?

by Readers Question

15:46 PM, 6th April 2021
About A week ago

Lodger’s possessions abandoned in my property?

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Lodger’s possessions abandoned in my property?

I recently had to evict a lodger from my house. I gave them 28 days notice for causing a nuisance, but they did not leave, so I had to change the locks. Afterwards, I sent emails and Whatsapps to them explaining what had happened and that they had 2 weeks to collect their belongings.

That was 2 weeks ago, and I have not heard anything since. They have left a lot of stuff in my spare room including valuables – furniture, books, clothes, laptops, paperwork, passport etc.

I would like to rent out my room again but I don’t have anywhere else to store the belongings. My hope is to arrange for a charity or house clearance company to collect everything and in the meantime email my ex lodger and give them another notice of 2 weeks to collect. But is this legal?

How long do I need to keep the items for?

Am I within my rights to donate the items to charity?

To what lengths can I go to trace this person and their contacts? E.g. could I look through their paperwork when I’m packing, to find friends or family contact details?

Many thanks

Dirk

Comments

Neil Patterson

15:50 PM, 6th April 2021
About A week ago

From Spareroom.co.uk >> https://www.spareroom.co.uk/content/info-landlords/what-to-do-if-your-lodger-leaves-possessions-behind/

If your lodger has left, but not taken all their possessions, you might be wondering what you can do with their things. Do you have a right to dispose of, or even move them?

As the items in question don't belong to you, if the ex-lodger asks for them, you should be in a position to return them. But you don't need to leave them taking up space in your spare room. Especially if you're intending to let it out to someone else. Box the items up for storage, and keep them safe for a while, in case they get back in touch. Of course, if you've had to forcibly evict the lodger, make sure there's someone with you (contacting the police is a good idea) when they arrange to pick their stuff up, to prevent any malicious damage being done.

You can't dispose of the items or sell them unless you've formally asked the rightful owner if they can remove them first. Let them know what you're storing for them, and how long you're intending to wait before getting rid of them (14 days is normal). Ideally you should send this formally by recorded delivery, so that you have a record that it was delivered. Use text or email only for following up on this initial course of action. If you get no response within the time period stated, you can sell or dispose of the items. Why not donate useful items to a local charity shop so that someone in need can benefit?

If you don't have an address for your ex-lodger, and you've failed to get in touch with them you can do what you like with their possessions. It's good advice to instruct a tracing company to track them down on a no trace no fee basis. If they can't trace the lodger, you've got prove they were uncontactable. And keep a careful record of everything you've done, just in case the lodger decides to come back and sue you for compensation.

Lindsay Keith

9:53 AM, 7th April 2021
About A week ago

I'm no expert on this difficult point but would be concerned about the presence of the ex-lodger's passport? In these chaotic times, this person could be anywhere, ill, well, in prison, in hospital, back with parents?

Remember that it is stated in the Passport that that document remains the property of the Crown, accordingly it doesn't belong to the ex-lodger, neither is it for you to dispose of? You may think it wise to inform the Passport Office of the position and offer to send them the Passport as you cannot keep it yourself?

Otherwise, Neil Patterson's advice seems the best to follow?

Smartermind

10:29 AM, 7th April 2021
About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Lindsay Keith at 07/04/2021 - 09:53
My experience is that the passport office are quite adept at losing people's passports themselves. It may be "property of the Crown", but it is also wrong to say it doesn't belong to the evicted lodger - it is for their use and therefore they are the rightful "owner".

Richie

10:43 AM, 7th April 2021
About A week ago

What passport? Didn’t see one enywhere !
Simples.

Chris @ Possession Friend

19:54 PM, 7th April 2021
About A week ago

Have a look at Abandoned Goods on our web site, ( let me know what you think )

dirk123

20:54 PM, 7th April 2021
About A week ago

Thanks for the responses. I have found this website a really useful resource. The Abandoned Goods link on Possession Friend is quite complex. The message seems to be - be careful. What is not clear to me there is whether tort law applies to lodgers or just tenants? I hope I am proceeding in a reasonable way as the law requires? I am going to write to them recorded post c/o their friend's address as well as the persons email/whatsapp and also their church. Whatsapp at least has a read receipt. I am writing to them them that I am disposing of the goods (with an inventory) and I will give them another 2 weeks to collect. I need to clear the room but I think I will hold onto to a box or two of small personal items for a few months in case they do return (passport, laptop, family photos, maybe some clothes) as this would seem fair under the circumstances.

To answer Lindsay's question. I take your point that the welfare of this person is at risk. When I evicted them I did immediately contact an organisation (local church safeguarding team) who know this person and I know the message got through. I have heard nothing since which is surprising. As you say literally anything might have happened. Hopefully they will surface in the next 2 weeks.

Thanks

Dirk

Chris @ Possession Friend

23:25 PM, 7th April 2021
About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by at 07/04/2021 - 20:54
We're happy to give advice by phone if you contact ( email ) us directly - as our web site says.

DSR

10:50 AM, 9th April 2021
About 6 days ago

Reply to the comment left by at 07/04/2021 - 20:54
by the sounds of things you are doing all you can, so keep details of what you do to trance him just in case of any comeback. The term 'reasonable endeavours' springs to mind and if you can show you have done this then what else could you have done? Are the church willing to take his belongings from you in this case on the off chance he might still turn up?

Chris @ Possession Friend

10:53 AM, 9th April 2021
About 6 days ago

Reply to the comment left by at 07/04/2021 - 20:54
Tort law applies to Anyone in legal possession of anothers property. Includes things like Dry-cleaners or Cobblers who've taken in goods for repair but they aren't collected.

dirk123

15:40 PM, 9th April 2021
About 6 days ago

Thanks for confirming about tort law.

Good news: a third party has now got in touch to arrange collection. Hours after I sent the recorded letter. Hopefully it can all be concluded swiftly.

Thanks again for all the help.

Dirk


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