Here 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.