Storing abandoned goods from a rental property

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.

What you need to do when you have stored Abandoned Goods

Within 7 days of storing the goods, you must try and notify the tenant using one of the following methods:

A record should be kept of these forms in case you need to prove in court that you have performed these actions.

If the goods have not been reclaimed within 60 days of them being put into storage, you are required to have them sold at public auction.

Reclaiming your costs associated with Abandoned Goods

Someone with a lawful right to the goods may reclaim them within the 60 days, or after that time if they remain unsold, after paying your reasonable removal and storage costs. Goods not claimed within 60 days must be sold at public auction and you are entitled to claim the costs incurred in their removal, storage and sale. The balance is paid into the Rental Accommodation Fund on application to the Magistrates Court using Form 11 - Proceeds of sale of abandoned goods. This will discharge your liability in respect of the funds.

If you are owed money from the previous tenancy (rent, damages etc), you can use Form 11 to claim from the money deposited. Court forms are available from the court nearest to you or through the Magistrates Court website.

Apart from these provisions (detailed in Section 79 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1987), you cannot seize the tenant's goods or property as compensation for rent owing.

If you are in dispute with a former tenant over abandoned goods and you are unable to resolve the issue, you can make an application for a hearing in the Magistrates Court nearest to you.

Abandoned vehicles/trailers

When a tenant abandons a motor vehicle (or motor vehicles) or a trailer at a property, the first course of action for any applicant will be to check with the Police to see if the vehicle(s) is/are stolen. 

Vehicles that are currently licensed should also be reported to the Police by the applicant and all reasonable means should be applied to have the vehicles owner remove the vehicle.  The Department cannot issue an Abandoned Goods Certificate on a vehicle or trailer that is licensed; in this instance you should seek legal advice.

Applicants can conduct a check of a vehicle or trailer with a licence plate attached to verify if it is currently licensed by searching on the Department of Transport website: Online vehicle licence expiry check. 

All states and territories have similar online facilities to check vehicle licences as per the following links:

Western Australian Government - Vehicle Licence Expiry Date Enquiry

ACT Government - ACT Rego Transaction

Government of South Australia - Check Registration Expiry Date 

New South Wales Government - Check Registration & History

Northern Territory Government - Rego Check

Queensland Government - Check Registration Status

Tasmanian Government - Vehicle Registration Status Enquiry

Victorian Government - Registration Check VicRoads

VicRoads may also authorise disposal of an uncollected vehicle: Release of registered operator information for uncollected vehicles.

These searches do not provide any details as to the ownership of the vehicle. 

You can check whether there is a security interest for any debt registered over the vehicle or whether the vehicle is reported stolen or written off, by searching for the vehicle on the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR).

Caravans abandoned at a residential premises

Caravans abandoned at residential premises should be listed as an item for assessment in an application for an Abandoned Goods Certificate.

A valuation of the caravan may be requested by the Department.

Caravans abandoned in a caravan park

Caravan means a vehicle fitted or designed for habitation. For caravans in a caravan park only which have been abandoned under the Residential Parks (Long-stay tenants) Regulations 2007, applicants should refer to regulation 57 of the Caravan Park and Camping Grounds Regulations 1997 which advises that an authorised person, or the licence holder of the facility where the caravan is situation, may give written notice that, in their opinion, a caravan owned or occupied by the person to whom the notice is given, is neglected or abandoned. 

Notice given under this regulation is to briefly state:

  • a description of the caravan sufficient to identify it, including where possible, its number plate; and
  • any actions that may be taken to rectify the problem(s) with the caravan; and
  • that those actions are to be taken within 14 days (or a longer period if specified) of service of the notice; and
  • that if the notice is not complied with, the caravan may be removed from the facility and, after not less than 60 days of that removal, sold. 

Where notice that a caravan on a facility is neglected or abandoned has not been complied with within the time specified in the notice, an authorised person, or the licence holder of the facility may cause the caravan to be removed from the facility. 

Applicants can contact their local council for further advice and also refer to the following legislation:

Need a form?

The abandoned goods forms include the application for an abandoned goods certificate and notices to former tenants. 

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