Can I dispose of tenant's belongings they left behind?

Mark Bandara asks:
(updated on Tuesday, March 11th 2008)

Our tenants moved out four weeks ago and we have moved into our rental property. The tenants left behind an old washing machine that they said they would come and pick up at a later date. Despite numerous reminders from us they still have not taken it away and we really need it out as it is sitting in our carport. What can we do about this? Can we, legally, dispose of this ourselves?

Our Experts Answer:

When a tenant leaves items behind at the end of the tenancy, the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 states a landlord must store those items safely and securely, until the tenant collects them, or until the landlord obtains an order from the Tenancy Tribunal to dispose of the goods. As you have contacted your tenant about the washing machine previously, you may wish to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for an order allowing you to dispose of it. Make sure you store the washing machine, and anything else the tenant left behind, safely and securely until either the tenant collects it, or you have a Tenancy Tribunal order. For information and advice about making an application to the Tenancy Tribunal contact the Department of Building and Housing on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262) or visit

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

Heartland Bank - Online 1.99
The Co-operative Bank - First Home Special 2.09
HSBC Special 2.25
ICBC 2.25
HSBC Premier 2.25
Kainga Ora - First Home Buyer Special 2.25
AIA 2.29
TSB Special 2.29
The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 2.29
SBS Bank Special 2.29
Westpac Special 2.29
Heartland Bank - Online 2.35
ICBC 2.35
HSBC Premier 2.35
TSB Special 2.49
SBS Bank Special 2.49
The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 2.59
BNZ - Classic 2.59
ASB Bank 2.59
AIA 2.59
China Construction Bank Special 2.65
Kiwibank Special 2.65
HSBC Premier 2.89
TSB Special 2.99
AIA 2.99
Westpac Special 2.99
ICBC 2.99
ASB Bank 2.99
China Construction Bank Special 2.99
BNZ - Classic 2.99
SBS Bank Special 3.19
Kiwibank Special 3.19
The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 3.19
Heartland Bank - Online 2.50
Resimac 3.39
Kiwibank - Offset 3.40
Kiwibank Special 3.40
Kiwibank 3.40
Bluestone 3.49
Select Home Loans 3.49
ICBC 3.69
The Co-operative Bank - Standard 4.40
The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 4.40
Kainga Ora 4.43