From furniture to cars, tenants are notorious for leaving possessions behind, would you know what to do?

Many landlords will be able to relate to the issue of tenants leaving behind goods, from the mundane to the extreme, such as land rovers and designer clothes. So, if you are a landlord in this position follow our guide on how to solve the issue within the legal constraints.

Stated under common law, a landlord is ‘responsible for the safe-keeping of a tenant’s left behind possessions’ and therefore becomes an ‘involuntary bailee’ pending collection.


  • Therefore, with this in mind, the first must-do for any landlord in this position is to make ‘reasonable’ efforts to trace the owner of the goods. As only after these efforts have been made (with evidence of doing so) may a landlord sell the goods with the assurance that the tenant no longer wants them or has remained un reachable for a certain period of time.
  • Furthermore, if the tenants is traced the landlord is required to serve a notice stating their intention to dispose of the items, as well as provide information on how to arrange collection.
  • Consequently, a final necessity for the landlord is to notify the tenant that storage and disposal of the items will incur a cost that will begin on the notice expiration date.


  • However, the landlord may not be permitted to release the possessions to a third party without full proof that an attempt has been made to contact and notify the previous tenant
  • Secondly, it is illegal for a landlord to withhold a tenant’s possessions against debt the tenant may owe.
  • Finally, the law expects landlords to return all left over proceeds to the tenant after expenses (including arrears) have been covered, as long as the tenant claims these within 6 years.

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