A member posted on our Forum this week with a query about what he should do with the possessions of his tenants, whom he had recently evicted from his property.
The landlord began by saying that the tenant in question was in a significant amount of rent arrears. Last week, bailiffs had removed the tenant and their family from the property.
Prior to being evicted, the tenant was aware that they were required to leave the property, however they had made no attempt to do so – for example they had not packed up their belongings.
When the tenant left the property, the bailiffs had allowed them to take some clothes with them, and as many possession as they could fit into their car.
Despite this, the majority of the tenants’ personal possessions remained at the property.
The landlord did not have a forwarding address for the tenants, and had no means of getting in contact with them.
Keen to re-let the property again as soon as possible, the landlord wanted to know what he should do next.
What landlords on our Forum suggested
Several members responded with their suggestions for what the landlord should do next.
Clear the property
One member said the landlord’s best option would be to clear the property and put the tenants’ possessions into storage.
Before items in the property were touched, they said the landlord should ensure they had taken plenty if photographs of the house, and if possible take a witness.
By putting the possessions into storage, the landlord would be able to rent out the property again.
Write a letter
The same member also suggested that the landlord does have a means of contacting the tenant. They suggested writing a letter addressed to the last address that they have for them (which is the property). If the tenant had not arranged mail forwarding, then that was their problem. The landlord should keep copies of any letters sent to the property, and free proof-of-postage.
Another member said the situation should be resolved as soon as possible, stating that when a property is vacant, the chances of it being burgled are, in their opinion, quite high.
Response from our Landlord Advice Team
An advisor from our Landlord Advice Team then posted on the Forum thread.
They said that unless otherwise stated in the tenancy agreement, a tenants’ belongings must be kept for three months before they are disposed of.
The landlord must ensure that reasonable attempts are made to arrange collection with the tenant. It is recommended that the landlord carries out an inventory of the belongings and that they take photographic evidence for their protection.
The landlord may wish to put the belongings into storage. If this is done then they must ensure that more photographs are taken, to avoid the tenant claiming for any damages.
It is the landlord’s responsibility to protect the belongings, within the time period. This is under the TORTS (Interference with goods) Act 1977. Costs for storage can then be added to the tenant’s debt, as he or she is already in arreas.
What landlords should do if they can’t get hold of the tenant
If the landlord is struggling to get hold of the tenants and they have no contact details for them, such as a phone number or email address, then they should stick a letter on the window or the door of the property, with contact details so that the tenant can arrange to collect their possessions.
As long as the landlord has made reasonable attempts with the tools they have to hand, then this will satisfy the law.