Here is a question to the blog clinic from John who is a landlord:
One of my tenants left the house after receiving a Section 21. Unfortunately he left behind a car (parked on our drive) and loads of clutter and working goods in our garage.
We signed a document where we both agreed that he would collect his possessions within a month, but he failed to do so.
What shall I do with his goods (probably worth around 300 pound) and mainly with his car?
No doubt readers will correct me if I am wrong, but I think you can get the Local Authority to remove the car if it has been abandoned. Or is that just if it has been left on the highway?
The general situation with goods left behind is as follows.
When someone leaves things in your possession, as they are not yours, you do not have the legal right to sell them or dispose of them. You are in the position of what lawyers call an ‘involuntary bailee’.
However it is unfair for you to be stuck with these things forever, so the law sets out a procedure for you to follow in the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977.
Under s12 of this act, you need to write to them giving reasonable notice that you intend to sell the goods. The details of the letter are set out in schedule 1 – you have to say where the goods are stored, what they are and give a (reasonable) period of time during which they need to collect them.
Note that the letter will need to be sent by recorded delivery or registered post. The act came in before we had texts or emails so they will not count.
If you do not know the address of the owner of the goods you do not have to send the letter so long as you can prove that you have taken ‘reasonable steps’ to find them.
So far as any proceeds of sale are concerned, this belongs to the tenant not to you so you will need to give it to him, less any reasonable costs of sale.
Note that members of my Landlord Law service will find a letter that they can use on the site.