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Abandonment of personal property

By Wm. F. Watson

When the landlord discovers his tenant has run out in the middle of the night and left stuff behind, he just can’t throw everything out – he has to abide by very specific provisions set out in the legislation. For instance, the landlord may remove the personal property from the rental unit, and on removal must store the tenant's personal property in a safe place and manner for a period of not less than 60 days following the date of removal, keep a written inventory of the property, keep particulars of the disposition of the property for 2 years following the date of disposition, and advise a tenant or a tenant's representative who requests the information either that the property is stored or that it has been disposed of.

If the property has a total market value of less than $500, the cost of removing, storing and selling the property would be more than the proceeds of its sale, or the storage of the property would be unsanitary or unsafe the landlord may dispose of the property in a commercially reasonable manner.

If a tenant claims his or her personal property at any time before it is disposed of under the legislative provisions the landlord may, before returning the property, require the tenant to reimburse the landlord for his or her reasonable costs of removing and storing the property, and satisfy any amounts payable by the tenant to the landlord under the Residential Tenancy Act or a tenancy agreement.

If a tenant makes a claim for return of his property but does not pay the landlord the amount owed, the landlord may dispose of the property as provided for in the regulations.

   

 
 

Expert Advice - Abandoned Unit

Q: I recently sold my rental house. Proper notice was given, and one of my tenants moved out promptly on time. However, she left some possessions (a number of canvases and paintings) behind, and emailed a request to leave them until she found storage. I have not yet replied. Is there a proper procedure to follow? If my former tenant does not remove her things before the house closing, what obligations do I have? In addition, she did not give me a forwarding address, only an email contact. Many thanks! for your excellent book and website. Your writing style is clear and consise, but, most of all - personable. It's a pleasure to read your replies.
A: At first blush, it seems to me like you're looking at abandoned property. The regulations require that the landlord inventory and store goods and possessions left behind from a tenancy and the tenant be notified of how the items can be retrieved. If the tenant has contacted you indicating she wants her stuff back you are wise to handle it very carefully; photograph things, store them appropriately, inventory them, and generally look after them like they are your own. Storage costs can be recovered from the tenant in most of these situations. If the property has value of less than $500, where the provisions of the regulations have been met and the tenant isn't making moves to get the stuff back, then the landlord can dispose of the goods.

 

 
 

 

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