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Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Saskatchewan Justice

On occasion, landlords must deal with goods left behind by tenants after they move out. The tenant remains the owner of the property. The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (the “Act”), does not tell landlords what to do, other than the landlord cannot seize or withhold the tenant’s property, and must co-operate with the tenant’s reasonable requests to get their stuff. The Act protects the landlord if the landlord obtains an order permitting them to dispose of the property.

As in all things, the tenant and landlord should act and communicate reasonably. If the tenant can make arrangements with the landlord to pick up the property, both should arrive on time and be courteous.

Here are some suggestions that may help landlords deal with property left by a tenant:

  1. Obtain addresses for e-mail and text messages from the tenant at the start of the tenancy so that you can communicate with the tenant after the tenant leaves;
  2. Before moving anything, inventory the goods with a camera or camcorder or make a written list. Have a second person present to witness that the inventory is accurate.
  3. Store goods economically, but securely, while attempting to have the tenant or family of the tenant come for them;
  4. Keep a record of calls made and responses received when communicating with relatives, references, income sources or anyone else in trying to locate the tenant or someone who could remove the goods on behalf of the tenant;
  5. Write in care of any addresses which might reach the tenant (ie. in care of relatives, references, employers, income source) giving a deadline to recover the goods before they are sold, given away or thrown away;
  6. Obtain an order from the Office of Residential Tenancies authorizing disposal of the abandoned property pursuant to section 85 of the Act (use Form 9 & Form 2); and
  7. Search the Personal Property Registry (www.isc.ca; 1-866-275-4721) to determine if there are liens on goods of value (ie. motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, etc.). The lien claimant may have a claim to the property and may remove it to enforce their lien. A lien will have priority to your right to dispose of the property.

If a landlord disposes of a tenant’s property without an order permitting the landlord to do so, the tenant may ask the landlord to pay them for the value of the property. The landlord may also have claims, such as for rent loss, if the property left by the tenant prevented the landlord from re-renting the property, and the time and expense of dealing with the property left behind.

Either the landlord or the tenant - or both - can apply to the Office of Residential Tenancies for compensation. A landlord would have to show that reasonable measures were taken to contact the tenant and arrange for removal of the property. A tenant would have to explain why the property was left and what efforts were made to remove it.

A landlord’s decision to obtain an order is like a decision to buy insurance – a landlord must balance the cost against the risk. Which has greater value to the landlord – the time and expense of obtaining an order, or protection from the risk of a claim by the tenant? Landlords are more likely to want an order if the tenant has left valuable property behind, and may not want to pay the application fee if the property is of little or no value. It is the landlord’s decision whether to obtain an order or to risk a claim.

Related Documents
Form2.pdf  ( 58.3 KB )


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