After Tenancy is Over
Property left by Tenants
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:
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.