Can we charge the ex-tenant for removing their property?
Question from Sue updated on 1st September 2006:
Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:
· General information about resolving disputes
The first step to addressing the problem is to discuss it with the tenant to see if you can reach an agreement. If you can’t agree you could lodge a Tenancy Tribunal application with the Department of Building and Housing. Call 0800 TENANCY (0800 83 62 62) for an application form.
If you collected a bond from the tenant and it has not been refunded, you might be able to apply for some of the bond to be refunded to you. Call 0800 TENANCY (0800 83 62 62) or visit www.dbh.govt.nz for more information.
· Process for disposing of a tenant’s abandoned goods
In the situation where a tenancy has ended and the tenant has vacated the premises leaving some of their property behind, landlords must apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to legally dispose of the tenant’s abandoned goods.
There are a number of steps for landlords to work through to do this.
1. Establish that the abandoned goods do in fact belong to the former tenant. The Tenancy Tribunal will require some evidence that the goods are owned by the tenant, as it has no authority or jurisdiction to make a disposal order without this evidence.
2. Apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for an order for the disposal of the goods under section 62(1)(b) of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (‘the Act’). Application forms for the Tribunal can be obtained from your local District Court. There is an application fee of $20 payable when an application is lodged with the Tribunal.
3. Attend the Tribunal hearing (you will be notified well in advance of the hearing date and time) of your application. The Tribunal may order that the goods are returned to the tenant, or where this is not practicable i.e. because the tenant cannot be contacted, an order for the sale or other disposition of the goods can be made.
The landlord is entitled to recover the costs and expenses reasonably incurred in the sale and/or disposal of the goods out of the bond held by the Department of Building and Housing. To do this, the landlord should contact us at 0800 TENANCY (080 83 62 62) for information on the bond refund process.
If an order for the sale or other disposal of the goods is made, the landlord will not be liable in any way to the tenant for this sale or disposal in the event that the tenant reappears and seeks compensation for the disposed goods. This is why it is very important for landlords to follow the proper, legal process for the disposal of goods abandoned by tenants.
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.