Sign up for my Weekly Tips on a Tuesday (and get a free guide)>> Click here

Tenant returning to collect possessions left behind question

bedHere is a question to the blog clinic from Diana (not her real name), who is a landlord :

My tenant moved out on the 13th of October, but I found that she left a bed and a wardrobe in the flat.

She left her set of keys also.

Saturday 27th Oct she entered the flat with another set of keys I didnt know she had and took the bed and wardrobe.

However she did not inform me at all of this and as far as I know, furniture left for a certain amount of time is considered abandoned and no longer her possession?

What can I legally do about her entering? I have a witness who was in the flat at the time. What status would the furniture be at in terms of ownership ( its not that I want it but she can’t just leave it for me to store and enter my flat without my knowledge and take it, right?)

This is a bit of a hard one as you don’t say why you believe the tenant had ‘moved out’.  If it was just on the basis of what she did, and she did not say anything to you, then the fact that she left furniture behind should have alerted you to the fact that she might be coming back to get it.

Even though she left a set of keys behind.  Normally a symbol of giving up possession – but here she had a second set.

So it is possible that she had not actually given up possession of the property   (in which case she is liable for rent for the extra time).  However if she HAD given up possession of the flat, her entry without informing you first and getting your permission, would have been trespass.  But there is not a lot, in reality, you can do about it.

So far as the furniture is concerned, in this situation, unless a tenant specifically agrees that ownership should pass to you (perhaps in lieu of unpaid rent), ownership of items left behind in property remains with the tenant (or the original owner if this was not the tenant).  It does not belong to you just because they left it behind.

This can cause problems for landlords as it means that they do not have the right to throw away or sell items left behind.  Take a look at this horror story from my Landlord Law site which is based on a real case.

There is a special procedure landlords need to follow when dealing with tenant’s property left behind – see Ben Reeve Lewis’s post here which explains more.

So I don’t think there is much you can do about her entering other than be grateful she removed her furniture, which could have been a problem for you.

Presumably she gave you the second set of keys when she collected the items and confirmed that she did not have any other sets of keys, otherwise you might want to consider changing the locks.

(See also the comments area below and >> click here to read our terms of use and comments policy)

Important note. If you are reading an old post, remember that the law may have changed since it was written.

Landlord LawLandlord Law exists to give help & support to landlords

To find out more and the Seven Free Services you can use on Landlord Law RIGHT NOW!

>> Click Here

One Response to Tenant returning to collect possessions left behind question

  1. Diana, you didn’t actually say when the tenancy was legally due to end, but I would agree with Tessa’s comments.

    In theory, if the tenancy ended before the 27th October you could try and claim mesne profits for that period, but in practical terms I’d just be very grateful the tenant has saved you the bother of having to put their belongings in to storage etc.



About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

The Landlord Law Blog from Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

Legal Services

Legal services are provided via Tessa's online service Landlord Law. Some advice services are provided by Tessa, other legal services are provided by specialist housing firm Anthony Gold.


The purpose of this blog is to provide information, comment and discussion. Although Tessa, or guest bloggers, may from time to time, give helpful comments to readers' questions, these can only be based on the information given by the reader in his or her comment, which may not contain all material facts. Any comments or suggestions provided by Tessa or any guest bloggers should not therefore be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice from a qualified lawyer regarding any actual legal issue or dispute.

Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice or perceived as creating a lawyer-client relationship (apart from the Fast Track block clinic service - so far as the questioners only are concerned).

Guest bloggers

Please note that any opinion expressed by a guest blogger is his or hers alone, and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tessa Shepperson, or the other writers on this blog.

Other websites from Tessa

Lodger Landlord | Google+ | Your Law Store | How to Evict Your Tenant website | the Which Tenancy Agreement Guide | Landlords Tips | Tenants Tips | Landlord Law Store