What happens to gear left behind when tenants do a runner?

What happens to gear left behind when tenants do a runner?

10:06 AM, 16th February 2011, About 13 years ago

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Tenants often skip their rented home leaving behind old furniture or other belongings that are broken or too heavy to move, leaving the landlord to sort out the mess behind them.

Builders are often culprits as well,  abandoning tools and materials at rental houses and never coming back.

Many landlords are unsure of their rights in these circumstances – so here is a guide to what to do if this happens to you:

  • Photograph and list the gear – If someone later returns for the goods or makes a claim, you have evidence of what was left and the condition it was in.
  • Write to the person abandoning the gear – If you have a forwarding address or guarantor’s details, drop them a line asking that they make arrangements to pick up the goods within a reasonable time and warning that if they don’t, you will dispose of them.
  • The person leaving the goods behind is entitled to any money raised from a sale up to six years after the date of leaving – less reasonable costs incurred by the landlord.
  • Don’t throw everything away without giving someone the chance to come back and collect it.
  • Don’t dump it out in the street or on  someone else’s doorstep because you can be held liable to replace anything that is damaged, lost or destroyed.

If no one answers your letter or turns up to collect what they left behind, sell or dispose of the goods.

Most solicitors would suggest you send any letters by recorded delivery, so you can prove they were received if the loser later makes any claim against you.

A ‘reasonable time’ to allow for collection would generally be no less than 30 days.

Some landlords include a warning clause to cover handling goods left behind by the tenant in their letting agreements.

The wording must follow the guidance of the Torts (Interference With Goods) Act 1977 – you can find a copy on line here.

The same rules apply to builders or other tradesmen leaving tools and materials behind when they complete a job.

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