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Stuff Left Behind: What to Do with a Tenant’s Abandoned Possessions

One of the biggest headaches landlords face when it comes to renting is tenants abandoned possessions. According to a report by the National Landlords Association, over a third (36 per cent) of landlords in the UK have had their property abandoned by tenants. Tenant abandonment occurs when a renter leaves before the end of the tenancy period without giving due notice. This problem can be costly, as it often happens when the tenant still has outstanding rent to pay.

When renters abandon a property, they sometimes leave behind personal belongings. These abandoned goods are a nuisance to landlords because they can’t put up the property for rent. Throwing out the items without taking appropriate steps to store them or return to the former tenant is not an option either, as it is a violation under the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977.

If you’re a property owner who’s not sure what to do with tenants abandoned possessions, take note of the following steps:

Notify the Tenant

The solution, in many cases, is as simple as getting in touch with the renter by calling or sending an SMS. If the tenant replies or picks up the call, they may agree to either collect the items or give the landlord consent to throw the things away.

If they are being difficult, however, you’ll need to serve written notice by recorded delivery, which contains the following information:

  1. Your intention of getting rid of the possessions not collected on or before a set date. The law requires you to provide a reasonable period of notice to the tenant (commonly 21 days).

  2. Instructions on what the renter should do to arrange collection with you

  3. Your intention of selling any possession of value you find if the tenant fails to collect them by the notice’s expiry. If this is the case, all proceeds will go to the tenant. Any costs incurred, however, such as removal, storage and sale, are deductible.

Additionally, keep a record of all communication, especially if the tenant agrees to dispose of the items.

Check for Accepted and Clear Indicators of Abandonment

Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if an uncommunicative renter has really left the property for good. The mere appearance of an abandoned unit is not solid proof. On top of that, temporary abandonment may be a result of mitigating circumstances, including but not limited to the following:

  1. Taken into Legal Custody

  2. Attending a Family Illness

  3. Being Admitted to a Hospital

If you are unable to get hold of the tenant after repeated attempts, you can conduct further investigation. Keep an eye out for these clear and accepted indicators of abandonment:

  1. Keys to the property have been left behind

  2. Tenant possessions have been removed

  3. Non-payment of rent

Helping You Locate Absconded Tenants

If you need additional help tracking down absentee tenants, turn to MS Webb.  Our reliable tracing services track down absconded renters, debtors and other individuals who have not fulfilled their responsibilities to you. When we trace the whereabouts of individuals, we utilise a tailored approach to allow us to find the party you’re seeking as quickly as possible.

Contact us today for more information about our services.


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