Ask Lorraine – Our Tamworth tenants have moved out leaving belongings

🙋  Landlord’s Question: 

“Good Evening Lorraine

Our tenants appear to have moved out without paying last months rent. We are being advised by neighbours that they have moved to Spain. They left behind items i.e washing machine, dishwasher, 3 piece suite, a very nice patio set, garden shed and quite a lot of rubbish.

We need to relet this property as soon as possible as we are paying a mortgage on it so our priority is getting rid of the items they have left behind.

Unfortunately we didn’t take a deposit and know we are unlikely to recoup the owing rent or for damage to the living room carpet.

What is our position regarding disposing of the goods left behind?

We have no contact address for them, emails and phone calls are not being responded too and my wife has attempted  to connect with them on facebook.


Tenants have moved out and left belongings
Tenants have moved out and left belongings

🙋 Lorraines Answer

Steve, you appear to have got off  relatively light.  In lots of eviction cases the tenants remove everything they own from the property including items that do not belong to them and go as far as trashing the property.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, next time take a deposit 1.5 – 2.0 x the monthly rent.

As a landlord you do have a legal obligation to take care of the goods and to make reasonable attempts to trace the tenants in order to return the goods. See Tortes  Law (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 which makes provision for abandoned goods under S12.

Under S12 of the Torts Act, if the  tenant (known as bailor) breaks an arrangement to take delivery of the goods, or the landlord (bailee) is unable to trace the former tenant, then the landlord is permitted to sell the goods, provided he gives notice.

The landlord (bailee) can sell the goods at auction and deduct any auction charges incurred, storage costs can also be deducted. Full clear and concise records should be kept ensuring that the tenant cannot come back at a later date asking for recompense for the cost of the goods.

Any monies made from the sale of the goods can be used to offset rent arrears and damages as long as your tenancy agreement has these stipulations noted.

Before disposing of any goods, even when the tenants cannot be traced there is a prescribed form of notice, which must be followed.

1. In writing by registered post or recorded deliver.

2. Full names and the address of the tenants,  full details of the goods held and the address where they are being held.

3. Mention that the goods are ready for collection or to be delivered to the tenant (bailor).

4.  The place of sale and the date on or after which they will be sold, as well as any costs which will be deducted from the sale proceeds.

The notice  must be attached to the property so that it can seen, perhaps on the front door and downstairs windows. 

Unless noted in your tenancy agreement, there is no set notice period, 14 days is the norm,  however the notice should give the tenant (bailor) a reasonable time to take delivery of the goods.

Even if the tenant can’t be traced following guidelines above will ensure that you don’t fall foul of the law.

Until next week.

If you are a landlord or thinking of becoming one for the first time and you want to read more articles like this about the Tamworth Property Market, together with regular postings on what I consider the best buy to let deals in Tamworth (out of the many of properties on the market, irrespective of which agent is selling it) then feel free to get in touch!

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