Time scales for vacated tenant’s goods?

Time scales for vacated tenant’s goods?

10:02 AM, 7th July 2014, About 10 years ago 12

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I can see many different time limits on different sites given in order to comply with Torts act. These times can vary from 2 weeks – 3 months.

Is their anybody who can clarify the time a landlord has to give a tenant who has vacated the property, but left goods behind.

The tenant and the guarantor have had letters hand delivered asking them to arrange collection, but these letters go unanswered .

I would like to know the legal time I need to keep these goods under these circumstances and then what do I do with them please.

Many thanks


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Robert M

10:18 AM, 7th July 2014, About 10 years ago

Hi Jan

I get all my residents to sign a document agreeing that possessions left behind at the end of an occupancy can be disposed of by me in any way I see fit if they have not been collected after 7 days. In reality, I would then move the items into storage (cellar, outhouse, garage, another property) after that time, and keep them for at least another 3 weeks to see if the tenant contacts me to arrange collection. After a month I then start sorting through the stuff and disposing of it, with most items going to the local charity shop.

As they sign a Disposal of Possessions agreement at the start of the occupancy, I think this should cover me legally, and certainly its legal validity has never been challenged by any resident.

Neil Woodhead

10:27 AM, 7th July 2014, About 10 years ago

If tenancy has ended, tenant has moved out and handed back all keys we include the cost of removal from tenancy deposit when application for release is made. If they accept cost then you can dispose of the goods. As above include in tenancy document

Neil Patterson

10:30 AM, 7th July 2014, About 10 years ago

Hi Jan,

I am by no means an expert in this area, but I believe the Tort you mention is the Interference with Goods Act 1977. Section 12 of this Act (see below) has been reference by my learned readers previously and the key is your efforts to trace the tenant.

How long have they been out of contact for eg is it possible they are just away?

Bailee’s power of sale.

(1)This section applies to goods in the possession or under the control of a bailee where—

(a)the bailor is in breach of an obligation to take delivery of the goods or, if the terms of the bailment so provide, to give directions as to their delivery, or

(b)the bailee could impose such an obligation by giving notice to the bailor, but is unable to trace or communicate with the bailor, or

(c)the bailee can reasonably expect to be relieved of any duty to safeguard the goods on giving notice to the bailor, but is unable to trace or communicate with the bailor.

(2)In the cases of Part I of Schedule 1 to this Act a bailee may, for the purposes of subsection (1), impose an obligation on the bailor to take delivery of the goods, or as the case may be to give directions as to their delivery, and in those cases the said Part I sets out the method of notification.

(3)If the bailee—

(a)has in accordance with Part II of Schedule 1 to this Act given notice to the bailor of his intention to sell the goods under this subsection, or

(b)has failed to trace or communicate with the bailor with a view to giving him such a notice, after having taken reasonable steps for the purpose,

and is reasonably satisfied that the bailor owns the goods, he shall be entitled, as against the bailor, to sell the goods.

Fred Jones

10:30 AM, 7th July 2014, About 10 years ago

You may want to read the information on the .gov site, link below!

Nigel Parry

10:49 AM, 7th July 2014, About 10 years ago

This is always a bone of contention. Like Robert we get the leaving tenant to sign a disclaimer allowing us to dispose of ALL possessions as we see fit. But what happens if the leave without signing it. This is where the 'Tort' comes in. There really is no guidance on exact timescales and I have seen as much as 3 months quoted on other forums. The key here is that it doesn't matter what is signed in an agreement (contract law) as the 'Tort' is an Act of prescribed legislation and overrules any contractual obligation.
The issue here. is what is regarded as 'reasonable'. If you have contacted all phone numbers, next of kin, employers etc and have got no response, then I would argue two weeks is long enough. Some would disagree. But don't forget that have the absolute right to charge for storage, and if the value of the goods are not enough to cover storage costs then at that tipping point you can get rid of them. As long as storage charges are reasonable £10 or £20 a day I would suggest, then there really is no problem. Just remember to document all items removed.
Hope that helps.

Jan Martin

11:09 AM, 7th July 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Woodhead" at "07/07/2014 - 10:27":

Morning Neil . Tenant gave notice by text . Never attended leaving inspection .Didnt pay last months rent and left the house in a mess . Keys left in house and front door left open . The tenant wouldnt answer me .I wrote letters to address I found she had moved to, and I also wrote to her mother who only lives 10 mins from me as she was acting guarantor .Letters were put through door by hand and witnessed . I originally had an inventory taken of the property and I had an inventory when she left . So reading all of your replies it seems that 1 month is a fair amount of time to be given . There is nothing to sell its all broken or dirty . Thanks to you all .

Mike W

15:54 PM, 7th July 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Fred Jones" at "07/07/2014 - 10:30":

An interesting response. Did you realise that the link posted is to the Ontario, Canada government website. Great if you are operating there and not in England & wales.


19:40 PM, 7th July 2014, About 10 years ago

Hi Jan
I'm in this situation now with the loft full shed and garden, agent said get a quote from a rubbish removal company which I now have £325, then contact tenant if they do not dispute the costs then I will receive payment. If you remove the rubbish yourself you cannot charge as you are unable to prove what the cost to yourself would be.
Time scale is the problem as I need to upgrade the loft insulation for the EPC which I cannot rent the property without, & there's to much to take out & store in another room plus you are handling it all twice.

Jan Martin

22:01 PM, 7th July 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "ian " at "07/07/2014 - 19:40":

Trouble is my ex tenant wont speak to me neither will her mother cause they owe months rent and they dont want to pay anything for sorting garden out, rubbish and moving goods which are mainly broken . So i couldnt get approval ref costs .When these things happen its usually cause the tenant has debt and is running away and the landlord gets the brunt of it . Tenant had lovely house new floors decor new carpets .As you say you cant sort the house out and get it ready for any viewings . It works out very costly . Thats right you cant get paid for doing works yourself but we do a lot of it .Well I hope when they see the price they may get and sort it out . Hope it works out for you .So how long are you keeping the goods for then have you decided .

Nigel Parry

12:59 PM, 8th July 2014, About 10 years ago

Hello again,
Interestingly enough, the Government have just issued a guideline for tenants and in it they describe what happens to your possessions when you leave!
See link for the document and in particular bottom of page 7!
If the government says this is right, then it must be?

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