Sometimes landlords will find themselves in a situation where their tenant has left behind his or her personal properties in the rental unit after vacating the place. Before you throw all the tenant’s belongings away, you have to determine if they are considered abandoned personal properties or there may be problems when the tenant decide to claim these properties later.

Section 24 to Section 29 of the Regulations deal with abandonment of personal properties. If the tenancy had ended, all personal belongings left behind by the tenant would be considered abandoned. In general, if the total market value of the belongings is less than $500 or if the cost of storing the belongings is above the value of the belongings, then a landlord’s obligations under Residential Tenancy Act would be exempt. However, if the belongings do not meet the exemption criteria, then proper storage and/or disposal procedures would have to be followed.

The tenant’s personal properties must be stored for 60 days following the vacating date. It is recommended that the landlord takes photos of the belongings. The landlord should write down an inventory list and how the items were disposed of. These records have to be kept for two years.

The landlord has a duty of care when dealing with a tenant’s personal properties. Reasonable care and caution required by the nature of the property and the circumstances must be exercised to avoid deteriorating, damaging, or stealing of the property. It is a must that the landlord does not damage the personal property as a result of an inappropriate method of removal or an unsuitable place of storage.

A tenant can claim the abandoned personal properties after they have left, but all money owed to the landlord must be paid off. These includes unpaid rent and/or utilities and/or damages to the unit. In addition, the tenant must reimburse the landlord for the cost to move and store and administer the belongings. Once the owed amounts are paid off, the landlord can release the personal properties back to the tenant.

In the next part of this topic, we’ll discuss how the tenant’s personal properties should be properly store and disposed.