Guide for rental providers - Goods left behind

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From 29 March 2021, Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) will no longer be undertaking goods left behind inspections. The new rental laws provide a revised process for managing goods left behind.

Your responsibilities

Rental providers must take the following steps when goods are left behind.

  • Store personal documents for 90 days (this includes digital documents).
  • Notify the renter that goods have been left behind. You must use the approved Goods Left Behind form.
  • Store the goods in a safe place for at least 14 days after sending the Goods Left Behind form to the renter.

Personal documents

Personal documents include official documents, photographs, correspondence, images on still and video cameras, material on computer hard drives and any other documents someone would reasonably be expected to keep.

When personal documents are left behind, the landlord or owner must:

  • take reasonable care of the documents for at least 90 days
  • let the tenant or resident reclaim the documents after repaying any reasonable costs they incurred to remove and store them.

Goods left behind that can be disposed of immediately

  • Goods with no monetary value, unless they are prescribed goods that must be stored (see the next section below).
  • Perishable foodstuffs.
  • Dangerous goods. Other legislation deals with the disposal of dangerous goods - for example, the Dangerous Goods Act 1985. You can visit the Work Safe website for more information: https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/dangerous-goods

You may want to take photos and videos of goods left behind with no monetary value, in the original position they were left. This may avoid later disputes with the renter. 

Goods left behind that cannot be disposed of (prescribed goods)

  • Labelled containers or labelled urns containing human remains
  • Specialised medical devices, equipment and goods including prostheses and prescription medication
  • Medals and trophies.

Occupation fees

What is an occupation fee?

  • If the amount of goods left behind prevents the rental provider from re-letting the premises, the rental provider can charge a fee to the renter for storing goods at the rented premises. 

What can a rental provider charge?

  • The charge cannot be greater than the rent.
  • A rental provider cannot charge for more than 14 days storage.

Selling or disposing of goods

When goods are not reclaimed after 14 days:

  • The rental provider may sell or dispose of goods in any lawful manner. 
  • If goods are sold, the renter has six months to claim the proceeds of the sale, less an occupation fee and costs associated with the sale.

After six months, the rental provider must pay the proceeds of the sale to the Residential Tenancies Fund within 30 days (less an occupation fee and costs associated with the sale). 

Frequently asked questions

My renter has left behind photographs that are of no monetary value – can I throw them away?
No, photographs are considered personal documents and must be stored for 90 days.

My renter has left behind goods - how do I know if they are considered dangerous?
Check the Worksafe website: https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/dangerous-goods-safety-basics 

I think there are stolen goods in the rental property - what should I do?
You should report this to the police.

What if goods have been left outside the property boundaries (for example, a car parked on the street)?
You should contact the local council and advise that the goods have been abandoned.

What if the renter has abandoned their car and it’s on the property?
Check with VicRoads if the vehicle is registered.

If the vehicle is registered and appears driveable:

  • contact the Personal Property Securities Register to check ownership
  • if there is a loan on the vehicle, you may contact the lender, who will pick up the vehicle.

If the vehicle is unregistered and/or unusable:

  • after following the goods left behind procedure, you may consider contacting a local wrecker or car auction business to establish the possible value of the vehicle.

The renter has abandoned rented furniture - what should I do?
Contact the rental company to pick up the goods.

The renter has abandoned their pet - what should I do?
Contact the local council or the RSPCA.