TENANTS POSSESSIONS: A tenant leaves some items behind after the tenure has ended. It happens!
Landlords should consider the legal implications before they sell anything or throw them away.
In fact any belongings tenants leave behind after eviction is still owned by the tenant. As a rule the landlord should return the possessions to the tenant.
In some cases you may find your previous tenant making a claim for damages against you.
Removing Tenants Possessions
What happens if you throw away property which belongs to the tenant? It often depends on the value of the item. But, the higher the value the more likely you will be subject to a claim for damages by the tenant.
Landlords usually have to clear out a tenant’s belongings when they leave things behind. In this case, you would be able to charge a fee for the cost of clearing out tenant possessions after eviction from your property.
Torts Interference with Goods Act
Landlords can dispose of tenant goods left behind under the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977. But, to avoid damage claims by tenants you must follow these procedures.
Send a letter to the tenant by recorded delivery. As a rule that is the best method.
The letter should state your intention to sell or dispose of the goods. Be sure to add the following information in the letter:
- Your name and address (landlord contact details for tenant collection of belongings after eviction).
- Accurate details of all the items that you hold.
- Information of the place where you are holding them.
- The date when you intend to sell the tenant’s possessions.
Landlords must keep a copy of the letter you send to the tenant. Some tenants will refuse to accept a recorded delivery letter. In this case you could hand deliver it so they cannot claim that they never received it.
Note: The selling date must provide the tenant with a reasonable amount of time for collecting belongings after eviction (2 to 4 weeks is typical).
Contacting Evicted Tenants
You may not have the contact address for the tenant. In this case you can sell or dispose of their possessions. But, you must be able to show that you made reasonable attempts to search and locate them.
The best method for doing this is to use a tracing agent. As a rule they offer landlords a ‘no-trace-no-fee’ trace arrangement.
Make sure you keep any report issued by the tracing agent. At some time you may need a report that states they failed to find the tenant.
You can then sell or dispose of tenants belongings left behind. In most cases this is enough to keep landlords safe from a tenant claim for damages.
Selling Tenants Belongings
What happens when landlords sell tenants belongings? In the eyes of the law the proceedings of any sale remain as the property of the tenant.
However, landlords have entitlement to make deductions from the proceeds of the sale. You can deduct the cost of selling the goods as well as any outstanding rent arrears. You can also make a deduction for other money that the tenant owes you.