What to Do With a Tenant's Possessions After an Eviction?
Evicting a tenant is never an easy thing for a landlord. It can be costly, lengthy, and stressful. Nevertheless, it’s sometimes the only option left to deal with a difficult tenant.
After a successful tenant eviction, you may still have another headache to deal with, though: the tenant’s personal belongings. Removing your tenant’s personal belongings isn’t as simple as just trashing them. There is a process you must follow, regardless of the fact that they’re in your property.
In Saskatchewan, landlords have certain responsibilities in regards to handling their tenant’s belongings. The rules are contained in the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (RTA).
If you fail to follow through with these rules, you risk paying a hefty penalty fee to your tenant.
In today’s article, you’ll learn everything you need to learn about what to do with a tenant’s possession after an eviction in Saskatchewan.
What Responsibility Do You Have Under the Residential Tenancies Act?
As a Saskatchewan landlord, you have to make reasonable attempts to contact your tenant about their belongings. If you’ve done so and haven’t been able to reach them, you may apply to the ORT for an order to dispose of the property.
If the value of the items is less than $1,500, you’ll not be obligated to obtain an order if you’ve made efforts to locate the tenant.
What Should You Consider When Dealing with a Tenant’s Leftover Possessions?
The following are some of the things to be mindful of.
- Ensure you take your tenant’s contact details at the start of their tenancy. This will help facilitate communication before and after they leave (if it becomes necessary). Some of the contact info you may want to take include their phone number, email, and work address.
- Take inventory of all the personal belongings your tenant has left behind. Ideally, document everything using both pictures and videos.
- Store the property securely. As you await the tenant to pick up their stuff, make sure you’ve stored them securely. Should they get damaged while in your possession, your tenant could sue you for damages.
- Document all your correspondence with the tenant. Keep a record of all calls, text messages, and email exchanges. These can come in handy if you require them as proof that you tried to contact them.
- Weigh the risks when disposing of property you think is of little to no value. The risk here is that, without an order from the ORT, your tenant could make a claim that the items had value to them. In such a case, you may be ordered to pay back the tenant the value of the items. So, before disposing of stuff your tenant has left behind, decide whether getting an order from the ORT is worthwhile.
- Consider contacting a lienholder to disclose liens on any valuable goods.
How Do You Remove a Tenant’s Possessions After They Move Out?
Of course, after the tenant moves out, you’ll want to re-rent the property as quickly as possible. The following are the steps you should take when removing their property.
Get rid of all the trash. And as you do this, keep track of the costs you incur in doing so, so you can prove you needed to use their security deposit to cover the cost.
Take inventory and organize everything. Once you’ve removed the trash, take the inventory and document it using photos and videos. If any items are locked, don’t open them up; leave them as they are.
Store the items. You can choose to store them on the property or elsewhere. But if you choose to store it elsewhere, you may want to re-rent the unit to another tenant.
Let the tenant know of their abandoned belongings. As a landlord, you have a responsibility to let your evicted tenant know of their missing belongings. That’s why it’s important to take your tenant’s contact information at the start of the tenancy.
In the notice, you may want to let the tenant of a couple of things. For example, costs incurred in moving or storing the belongings, how much time they have to retrieve them, and where you’re holding the items.
Dispose of the property. If you are unable to locate your tenant, you can apply to the ORT for an order to sell or dispose of the property. You aren’t obligated to obtain an order if the estimated value of the property is below $1,500, as long as you’ve made reasonable efforts to locate the tenant. However, the risk here is that the tenant can make a claim against you that their property was much more valuable and you can be ordered to compensate them.
Compensate yourself. At this point, you’ll want to consider all the losses you have incurred in moving and storing their belongings. You can cover your costs from any of the items you sell off or from a local sale.
How Can You Avoid Such Issues in the Future?
The best way to protect yourself from this situation in the future is by having a solid lease agreement. Beyond stating the obvious, make sure to add a clause in your lease regarding abandoned property.
In the clause, make sure to mention the following things.
- The disposal fee.
- Storage fee for abandoned property.
- The length of time you’ll be responsible for storing their belongings.
This way, both you and your tenant will know what is exactly expected of them when it comes to abandoned property.
Another way to protect yourself is by thoroughly screening prospective tenants. Make sure to screen them on the basis of their income level and creditworthiness, as well as their rental history.
Even after evicting a tenant, you cannot simply throw away their belongings. Their belongings remain their property regardless of where they are.
That’s why it’s important for landlords to familiarize themselves with the Residential Tenancies Act. Because, if you don’t, you risk finding yourself in a tricky situation where you’re liable for paying your tenant hefty money for trashing their property.
If you need help managing your Regina rental property, get in touch with Leenan Property Management. We’ll help you find a qualified replacement tenant, and can handle rent collection, property maintenance, and much more on your behalf. Call us today!