Abandoned goods at a rental property

What can you do with goods abandoned by your tenant when they leave

The first thing to do is to try and contact your tenant to find out when, or if, they are going to collect any abandoned goods.  This information is intended to assist if you cannot contact them or they provide no instruction for the abandoned goods.

The following items can be treated as rubbish and disposed of after 2 days:

  • Newspapers and magazines;
  • Cardboard boxes, plastic bags, household rubbish etc; 
  • Personal items eg toiletries, perfume, make up, medicines and pharmaceuticals;
  • Cleaning products, paint, solvents, oil, chemicals; and
  • Perishable and Non-perishable foodstuffs. 

What to do with important documents and photographs

If the tenant leaves behind important personal documents then you will be required to store them in accordance with section 80A of the Residential Tenancies Act 1987. These include official documents, photographs, correspondence or other significant documents it is reasonable to expect a person would want to keep. You need to take care of the documents for at least 60 days and take reasonable steps to notify the tenant where to collect the documents. If the tenant collects any documents from you, or you take the matter to court, you can be reimbursed for any reasonable costs.

Computers, laptops, tablets, smart phones, hard drives, flash drives and any other type of digital storage media may contain documents and it would be advisable to treat these items as abandoned documents and store them for 60 days. 

If the documents or digital media have not been claimed within 60 days, you can dispose them. 

Items requiring special consideration

If any of the following items are abandoned by your tenant then please contact the appropriate organisation for assistance.

Money

You can contact the Department of Treasury for information on how to deal with unclaimed money

Animals and pets

You can contact an animal shelter or refuge for information on what to do with abandoned animals and pets. 

Firearms, illegal drug paraphernalia or equipment

You must report any firearms, illegal drug paraphernalia or equipment to the Police. 

Rental items belonging to a third party commercial supplier

You can contact the supplier to arrange the return of any item which belong to a third party commercial supplier such as rented white goods, Foxtel units, rented furniture, shopping trolleys etc.

Abandoned vehicles / trailers

If your tenant has abandoned a motor vehicle or a trailer at the property, you should first contact the police to see if the vehicle has been stolen. Please read the section Abandoned vehicles/trailers for further information on abandoned vehicles.

Estimated Value of Abandoned Goods

When any items deemed to be rubbish have been disposed of, important documents stored and items returned to third party suppliers or reported to the appropriate organisation, you need to assess the sale value of the abandoned goods that remain. 

Goods of little or no value

If you believe that the estimated sale value of the abandoned goods is less than it would cost you to remove the goods, store the goods for at least 60 days and sell the goods at public auction you can choose to dispose of the goods.  This includes jewellery, motor vehicles, caravans, trailers or boats.  Further information on the disposal process is included in the section Disposal of Abandoned Goods at a Rental Property.

Goods of value

If the estimated sale value of goods, including motor vehicles, caravans, trailers or boats, is more than it would cost for you to remove, store and sell the goods at public auction, you must store the goods immediately in a safe place and manner for at least 60 days. For details of how to do this refer to Storing Abandoned Goods from a Rental Property.

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