Dealing with Tenants' Uncollected or Abandoned Goods (NSW)
What do you do when goods are left behind by a tenant or occupant? The rules that apply to the management of abandoned goods or ‘uncollected goods’ were recently updated and are now located in the Uncollected Goods Act 1995 (NSW). This article explains what constitutes 'uncollected goods' and how they need to be treated.
Goods are ‘uncollected goods’ if, amongst others:
· a landlord reasonably believes the goods have been abandoned or left behind by the tenant or an occupant of the premises after vacant possession of the premises is obtained or the premises are abandoned (within the meaning of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW));
· an owners corporation reasonably believes the goods have been abandoned or left behind on common property of a strata scheme (within the meaning of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW)); or
· a tenant reasonably believes that the goods have been abandoned or left behind by a former co-tenant or former occupant of residential premises after the former co-tenant or former occupant vacated the premises (within the meaning of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW)).
The rules provide an easy to follow process to sell or dispose of goods left behind not only in residential tenancies but other premises such as boarding houses, community and neighbourhood schemes.
How the ‘uncollected goods’ can be disposed of continues to depend on the estimated value and the type of goods involved. There have been significant changes in the amount of time uncollected goods may be held in storage, dependant on the value of the goods, as follows:
With reference to the Uncollected Goods Act 1995 (NSW):
Section 20: Low value uncollected goods Uncollected goods with a value of less than $1,000
Low value uncollected goods may be disposed of in an appropriate manner if the depositor:
· has been given oral or written notice of the receiver’s intention to dispose of the goods, and
· has been given at least 14 days, from the date when notice was given, within which to collect the goods.
The receiver may move or store low value uncollected goods in an appropriate manner.
Section 21: Medium value uncollected goods Uncollected goods with a value equal to or more than $1,000 but less than $20,000
Medium value uncollected goods may be disposed of by way of public auction or by private sale for a fair value if the depositor:
· has been given written notice of the receiver’s intention to dispose of the goods, and
· has been given at least 28 days, from the date when notice was given, within which to collect the goods.
The receiver may move or store medium value uncollected goods in an appropriate manner.
Section 22: High value uncollected goods Uncollected goods with a value of at least $20,000
High value uncollected goods MUST NOT be disposed of otherwise than in accordance with an order of the Tribunal. Maximum penalty—200 penalty units.
· A receiver may apply to the Tribunal for an order specifying the way in which the uncollected goods are to be disposed of.
· The receiver may move or store high value uncollected goods in an appropriate manner.
Of importance is section 28 of the Uncollected Goods Act 1995 (NSW) which sets out the relevant charges due to the person who takes possession of the uncollected goods (ie. the receiver). The amount of the relevant charges is the sum of the following amounts:
· the amount agreed on between the depositor and the receiver (or, in the absence of such an agreement, such amount as is reasonable) as the charges due to the receiver for any carriage or storage of the goods or for any repairs or other work done in connection with the goods;
· the amount of the costs incurred by the receiver (in respect of the period beginning with the date when the notice about the disposal of the goods was given to the depositor and ending with the date when the goods are disposed of) for any storage, maintenance or insurance of the goods; and
· the amount of the costs incurred by the receiver for the disposal of the goods in accordance with Part 3 of the Uncollected Goods Act 1995 (NSW).
Please note that section 28 does not apply to personal documents.
In addition, NCAT can now make orders about uncollected goods that the Local Court had previously dealt with. From 1 July 2020, property and strata managers or their clients may now apply to NCAT to resolve complaints and disputes about ‘uncollected goods’. NCAT can make various orders about ‘uncollected goods’. These include:
· Authorising the removal or other disposal of the goods
· Delivery of the goods
· Authorising the sale of the goods and the manner in which they are to be sold
· Payment of the sale proceeds
· Payment of compensation
· For further information and advice about how to deal with ‘uncollected goods’ visit NSW Fair Trading's uncollected goods web page
· For information specific to NCAT and to apply for an order in relation to ‘uncollected goods’, click here. To apply to NCAT use the new Uncollected goods application form. Fees are payable for uncollected goods applications. Click here to view the NCAT fees and charges.
Dealing with 'uncollected goods' can be an annoying and time consuming process, but it's important that you follow the new rules as outlined above to avoid penalties or fines. For more information on dealing with unusual landlord situations, contact Real Property Manager here.