A commercial landlord recently contacted us for help after his tenants left him with abandoned goods; saying, “The tenant has left a fair bit of mess and a whole lot of unused office equipment behind; as the landlord, what can I do about the abandoned goods?”
What are ‘abandoned’ goods?
Goods are classified as “abandoned” if the tenant has not collected, taken delivery or not provided direction as to the delivery of the goods. Goods may also be considered abandoned if a landlord is unable to locate or communicate with the tenant for the purpose of organising collection or delivery.
A landlord is entitled to payment from the tenant in the form of a “relevant charge”. This charge includes costs relating to the carriage, storage or insurance of or maintenance, repairs, cleaning, treatment or other work done in connection with the goods. The relevant charge must be reasonable.
Abandoned/uncollected goods can be broadly categorised into three value groups:
- Low value (less than $200);
- Medium value ($200-$4999); and
- High value ($5000 or greater).
Certain steps must be followed in order that abandoned goods can be disposed of lawfully.
Generally, a landlord should give written notice to the tenant of his/her intention to dispose of the goods. Written notice may be given personally or left at or posted to the person’s last known address specifying in the notice information including the address at which the goods may be collected, the relevant charge payable and the date after which the goods will be disposed of if they are not collected and the relevant charge unpaid.
If 28 days has lapsed since the giving of the notice and the tenant has not taken delivery or provided directions as to delivery, the landlord may dispose of the abandoned goods.
If the landlord cannot locate the tenant to give the written notice, the landlord can dispose of low value goods after 60 days have lapsed since the goods became uncollected goods. Low value goods can be disposed of by sale, destruction, appropriation or by other means.
For medium value goods, the expiration time is 90 days. In the case of high value goods, the landlord must notify any person who has a publicly registered interest in the goods and any other person having or claiming an interest in the goods. At the expiration of 180 days, the good may be disposed of. Medium and high value goods may only be disposed of by public auction or private sale.
For more information related to commercial leases or abandoned goods, please contact Dangerfield Exley for a full and frank discussion.
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