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Another Man’s Treasure: Abandoned Things Landlords Can Trash or Take

When you own a rental property, it’s good business if tenants remain for a long time. After all, tenants make for a consistent source of income. Eventually, though, your tenants will move out. No big deal, right? You’ll easily be able to get new ones, anyway, as reports say that one in four households in the UK will be renting by 2021.

But what if your previous tenants left some, if not all, of their things behind? Do the possessions now belong to you or are they still legally your tenants’ things? And are you going to take them or throw them out? Before you call for abandoned stock or rubbish removal service, you must know the answer to these questions first.

The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977

Fortunately for landlords who are experiencing this scenario for the first time, there’s a law that governs this particular situation. According to the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977, landlords need to make reasonable efforts to contact their tenant for the purpose of returning their possessions.

Until then, you must take care of your tenants’ goods. While it can be problematic since you must prepare your rental property for new tenants, you need to do this because you might otherwise pay compensation to your previous tenants if you dispose of their things without following due process.

Tenant Notification

If you have your former tenants’ phone numbers or any type of contact details, you can quickly resolve the issue. Either your former tenants will agree to come for the things they left behind or they’ll give you the permission to dispose of the items in any way. If they’re not responding or are being difficult, though, you must send them an official written notice stating:

That you want to dispose of their property within a certain period (the law states that you need to give them a reasonable period, usually 21 days).

The instructions on how they can arrange the collection of their belongings

Your intention of selling anything of value that isn’t collected once the notice expires. The proceeds will belong to your tenants for up to six years, but you may deduct the costs you incurred such as storage or removal.

If your former tenants give their consent to disposing of their abandoned items, make sure you keep all records of your correspondence. This proof may keep you from paying them compensation in case they change their minds and deny your claims.

Prevention is Truly Better Than Cure

You can avoid this mess altogether by practising a few things. First, you must find tenants with good references from their previous landlords. This way, you’ll know that the former landlords didn’t have problems with them, particularly with regards to abandoned properties.

Next, you must also do your part. Any good landlord must have a clause in their tenancy agreement that covers property abandonment. For example, you can include a clause that says you’ll sell the tenants’ abandoned possessions after two weeks if they don’t retrieve it. With this clause in the agreement your tenants will sign, you have a valid reason to throw or sell the things they left behind.

Finally, you must conduct a check-out inspection on the day your tenants are scheduled to vacate your rental property. This way, you’ll know what to do right away if they decide to leave their things behind.

Get Rid of Tenants’ Abandoned Possessions Properly

If you’ve followed the right procedures and you still have abandoned items to remove from your rental property, MS Webb is here to help. Our Abandoned Stock/Rubbish Removal service is a stress-free and comprehensive option to clean your place up.

For enquiries, contact MS Webb today.


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