Tenant left the country and belongings?

by Readers Question

12:16 PM, 9th May 2017
About A year ago

Tenant left the country and belongings?

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Tenant left the country and belongings?

Our tenant has moved (we believe) to Portugal, leaving behind various items ranging from rubbish to a washing machine and tumble dryer. Including a large sofa and chair.

Obviously we need to remove all these items in order to relet the property.

There is damage to paintwork and carpets, and 2 weeks’ rent owing so it is unlikely that any deposit will be returned.

What is our position regarding disposing of the goods left behind?

We have no contact address, text messages, emails and ‘phone calls are all unanswered.

Allison



Comments

Neil Patterson

12:21 PM, 9th May 2017
About A year ago

Hi Allison,

From an Article by The Sheriffs Office:

>> https://www.property118.com/disposing-of-goods-left-in-properties-after-eviction/83626/

In 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).

Michael Barnes

14:33 PM, 9th May 2017
About A year ago

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

That does not seem to make sense when the bailor cannot be traced.

Seething Landlord

18:40 PM, 9th May 2017
About A year ago

Don't forget that you can't just assume that the tenant has abandoned the property, there is a set procedure that you must follow before taking possession, otherwise you risk being accused of unlawful eviction unless there is clear evidence that the tenant has surrendered the tenancy.


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