If you are involved in a residential tenancy dispute, the best way to protect your interests is to talk to an experienced housing lawyer to fight for your rights. Mehdi Au LLP has experienced housing lawyers on staff who would be happy to talk to you about your issues.
Often when tenants leave a rental property, they may leave some of their items behind. When a landlord enters a unit after their tenants have left, usually they will want to quickly clean and repair any small issues right away to prepare for their new tenants but are unsure if they can dispose of the former tenants belongings. Well as with so many legal questions, it depends.
Ensure They Have Fully Moved Out
Before presuming your tenants have fully left the unit, it may be prudent to contact them, is it moving day, have they returned the keys but intended to come back quickly to get the last of their stuff. A phone call can save you a lot of headaches, so your first step should be, reaching out.
The Tenants Moved Out Voluntarily
If a Tenant moves out voluntarily according to an agreement to terminate the tenancy, an eviction notice or an eviction order and the Sheriff did not need to physically evict them, a landlord may dispose of, sell or keep the items with their own discretion.
The Tenant Was Evicted By The Sheriff
If the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) orders a tenant to leave a unit and they refuse/fail to comply, the landlord may take the order the Sherriff, who will enforce the order and forcibly remove the tenant. In such cases, as the tenant was not able to move themselves out, the landlord must hold onto and have their items made available for 72 hours at minimum. You do not need to keep the items in the rental unit, they may be moved elsewhere for the tenant to pick up, between the hours of 8am and 8pm, but you cannot sell or dispose of any items during that 72 hour time period. Failure to abide by the 72 hours rule may make a landlord liable to be sued by their tenant at the LTB and/or be fined by the LTB. Once the 72 hours has elapsed a landlord may sell, keep or dispose of the items.
Tenant Abandons The Unit
If the tenant abandons the unit different rules apply (this does not apply to mobile home tenants, they have very specific complex rules). A unit counts as abandoned if:
- The tenant moves out without giving notice, or without an eviction order/notice
- The tenant is in arrears of rent (if a tenant leaves without notice but they are not in arrears, they do not count as having abandoned the unit and the landlord cannot dispose of their belongings)
In such circumstances the landlord can either serve notice on the tenant saying they intend to dispose of the items, and give 30 days to retrieve their belongings) or apply to the board for an order determining the unit was abandoned, before they can dispose of or sell the belongings. You must in either circumstance wait for the 30 days to elapse. However, you can move the items to a storage location, but must allow the tenants to get the belongings if they contact you for access.
These are the most common scenarios of a landlord needing to dispose of a former tenant’s belongings. Please note different rules apply to mobile, trailer park rentals, and there is a very different set of rules to follow if a tenant dies. If you are involved in a landlord tenant dispute, contact a legal representative as soon as possible. Mehdi Au LLP has experienced staff who would be happy to meet with you.
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