Landlords must act in accordance with the Tort (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 when dealing with any goods left behind by tenants.
Any landlords that dispose of or sell goods left behind by a tenant without following the correct procedure as laid out by the Tort Act 1977 could find themselves liable for damages.
As a landlord, you would generally expect that when a tenant leaves your property, they would take all their belongings with them. However, from time to time, you’ll find that tenants leave furniture or belongings behind at the property.
Whilst this is frustrating and it can be tempting to bin the items immediately, if it later turned out that the items were of value, your tenant would have grounds to claim damages from you.
Any items that a tenant leaves behind are still their property and according to the law, a set procedure must be followed before a landlord can dispose of them.
Tort (Interference with Goods) Act 1977
First, you should store the tenant’s goods somewhere secure and make reasonable efforts to trace and contact the tenant.
If you do not have the tenant’s new address, you may need to use a tenant tracing service to prove that you have made reasonable efforts to find them.
Next, you should serve the tenant notice to come and collect the items by sending a letter to their current address.
The notice should include the following information:
- Where the goods are being stored.
- A description of the goods.
- A date by which the tenant must collect the goods.
- Notice that if the tenant does not respond by this date the goods will be disposed of or sold.
If the tenant does not get in contact or collect the goods by the date given, the landlord can then sell or dispose of them.
Any proceeds made from the sale of the goods are the tenant’s property and should be returned to the tenant once deductions have been made for any debts owed by the tenant to the landlord. Debts owed could include rent arrears, the cost of storing the goods, and any selling fees.