Items Left Behind
If a tenant leaves items behind after moving out, the landlord might consider the items abandoned.
The law says landlords are responsible for dealing with abandoned property. If the value of the items left behind is worth $500 or more, specific rules must be followed for storing, selling or getting rid of it.
Items are considered abandoned if they are left behind after a tenancy has ended. Also, if the tenant hasn't occupied the rental property for one month and hasn't paid rent for that month, the landlord could consider items left behind to be abandoned after 30 days if:
- The tenant left items behind without making arrangements with the landlord to store them
- The tenant has told the landlord that they don’t intend to return
- Circumstances are such that the tenant isn’t expected to return
Depending on the total value of the abandoned property, the landlord may need to store the items in a safe place for 60 days to allow the tenant a chance to claim them.
Dealing with Abandoned Items
The landlord is required to give proper notice before getting rid of a tenant’s personal items if the value of the items is worth $500 or more. Reasonable care should be taken to ensure the items are not damaged, lost or stolen when they are removed and stored.
Step 1: Complete an inventory
The landlord must make a written inventory of property abandoned by their tenant. It’s a good idea to take photos of the items while packing them as the photos will help to show the condition of the property when it was left behind.
Step 2: Storing abandoned items
Generally, the landlord must store the items in a safe place for 60 days to allow the tenant a chance to claim them. However, the landlord can choose to get rid of the items in an appropriate manner if the:
- Items are worth less than $500
- Cost of removing or storing the items is more than the items are worth
- Storage of the items would be unsanitary or unsafe
If a tenant doesn’t claim their items from the landlord within 60 days, the landlord must follow a specific process for getting rid of abandoned items.
Step 3: Give notice
The landlord must provide notice that they are planning to sell or get rid of abandoned items. Notice must be given in accordance with the Personal Property Security Act and can be done any time after the items are abandoned (i.e. during the 60-day storage period), but at least 30 days before they are sold. This step includes:
- Notifying anyone claiming rights to the items through the Personal Property Registry – search the registry using the name of the tenant or serial number of the items
- Notifying anyone who says they should have the items
- Posting a notice about the disposal of items in a local newspaper that covers the area where the rental unit is located
The notice must include:
- The name of the tenant
- The address of the rental unit
- The name and address of the landlord
- A description of the items to be sold or disposed of
- The following statement: “The items will be disposed of after 30 days of the notice being served or posted, unless the person being notified takes the items, or establishes a right to the items, or makes a dispute resolution application with the Residential Tenancy Branch, or makes an application in Supreme Court to establish their rights to the items.”
If you are unsure about how to give notice, please contact BC Registry Services at 1-877-526-1526.
Step 4: Sell or dispose of the abandoned items
After giving proper notice, the landlord can choose to dispose of or sell the items. The landlord can keep any money made from the sale of items to cover the costs of:
- Storing and disposing of items
- Unpaid rent or utilities
- Other money owing to the landlord
Under the Unclaimed Property Act (External Link), any leftover money must be forwarded to the administrator – the BC Unclaimed Property Society (External Link).
Step 5: Document everything
The landlord should keep all documents related to this process – like receipts for moving or storage and proof of how much the items were sold for.
The landlord must keep a written record of the entire disposal process for two years after getting rid of the items.
The content on this website is periodically reviewed and updated by the Province of British Columbia as per the date noted on each page: June 3, 2020.