Abandoned goods

Question from Jane updated on 11th March 2020:

Our tenant asked to store some things at the end of her tenancy as she had nowhere to put them not having secured another place at that stage. We allowed her to do so short term, but after she left we realised she had moved the entire contents of her home into the garage and attached storage room. This space is now unable to be used by the new tenant.

Three weeks on and she’s selected and taken one or two items and we still have a garage and storage room full of junk. We tried to submit an application to the Tenancy Tribunal for abandoned goods but we were rejected unless we could itemise and value everything. We can’t even see everything as it’s stacked roof high and side to side. Can we dump it all at 35 days?


Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:

You are correct in thinking the abandoned goods rules apply in this situation. Under the Residential Tenancies Act, if a tenant leaves items on the premises after the tenancy is terminated the landlord must make all reasonable efforts to contact the tenant and to agree with the tenant on a period within which the tenant is to collect the goods.

If the tenant claims the goods you can require that they pay your actual and reasonable costs for the storage of the goods. If tenant doesn’t collect the goods, after 35 days you must either continue to store the goods, or you can take any personal documents to the Police and obtain a receipt for them and sell the rest of the goods by public auction or privately at a reasonable market price.

If the goods are sold, you can apply to the Tribunal for an Order to claim a specified amount for storage and sale costs from the sale proceeds. If the storage and sale costs are more than the sale proceeds, you can apply for the deficit (via the Tribunal) from bond monies held or from the tenant (if bond money not held).

For more information on abandoned goods, and Tenancy Tribunal processes go to www.tenancy.govt.nz.You can also subscribe to our e-newsletter Tenancy Matters here.  

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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