Circa London explains why 'finders keepers' doesn't apply when a tenant leaves belongings behind

Published: 02/05/2022

'Finders keepers' doesn't apply when a tenant leaves belonging behind

As a landlord, it can be a hassle when tenants leave behind their belongings after vacating a rental property. While this scenario is not common, it's essential to know your rights in such a situation.

Here at Circa London, one of the top 
letting agents in E14, we understand the complexities of being a landlord, and we're here to help. This blog will provide a step-by-step guide on what to do if your tenants leave their belongings behind.

The Golden Rule: Never Throw Away Left Behind Belongings

The first thing you must remember is that throwing away any belongings left behind by tenants is a big no-no. Your rights as a landlord are protected under the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977, which governs how you should handle these items.

Your Legal Rights as a Landlord

The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 states that landlords must keep any possessions left on the property for three months. If the property is left abandoned but still has belongings, there are other legal implications, as the tenant may intend to return to the property in the future.

Step-by-Step Guide on What to Do

  1. Send a recorded delivery letter to the tenant: This letter should explain your intention to dispose of or sell the items and how the tenant can contact you to retrieve them.
  2. List the belongings you hold: In your letter, list the items in your possession and state where they are held.
  3. Inform the tenant of the intended disposal date: Give the tenant plenty of notice and a generous window to collect their belongings for at least two to four weeks.
  4. Keep copies of correspondence: Always keep copies of all correspondence related to this situation for your records.
  5. Tracing the tenant's address: If the tenant's forwarding address is unknown, you can use a tracing agent to help track down their current address. These companies often will only charge you if they can find the information.
  6. Disposal of belongings: Once you've followed all the necessary procedures, you can sell the items and pocket the cash. However, the money belongs to the tenant, and you must sell the goods for the best price possible and return any funds to the tenant once their debt and your costs have been deducted. Keep all documents related to the sale of goods, including valuations, for your records.

In conclusion, while dealing with left-behind belongings can be a hassle, it's essential to follow the proper procedures to avoid legal consequences. Following the guidelines outlined in this blog can ensure that you handle this situation efficiently and effectively. If you have questions or need further assistance, don't hesitate to contact Circa London, your trusted letting agent in E14.

At Circa London, a central London estate agents, we ensure that belongings left behind are dealt with to the letter of the law. However, in our experience, tenancies generally end without any hitches, and your property will be left empty and ready for the next tenant.

If you are a landlord, looking to let property in London, call us today.
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