When a tenancy comes to an end, what should the landlord expect the tenant to take away with them? If they do leave belongings behind, what should the landlord do? The following brief guide answers these questions.
The tenant’s property
Anything left behind by the tenant is still their property, and as such should be returned to them. Disposing of a tenant’s property could lead to a future claim from the tenant, especially if the item turns out to be valuable. A landlord can, however, charge for clearing the items from the property.
The legal angle
The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 lays out the procedure that must be followed by the landlord. They should send a letter, via recorded delivery, and keep a copy. This must include the landlord’s name and address, what items are held and where, and the date on which the landlord tends to dispose of the property. This should also allow the tenant a reasonable timeframe for collecting the goods, such as several weeks.
If you cannot contact the tenant
If you don’t have the tenant’s forwarding address, you still must demonstrate that you made a reasonable attempt at contacting them. The best option is to use a tracing agent, many of whom will work on a “no trace no fee” basis. Their report, stating they cannot locate the tenant, should be retained. After this, the proceeds from selling the goods technically belong to the tenant, but the landlord can deduct any associated costs, rent arrears outstanding or other debt due.