Abandonment of a rental property

A property is ‘abandoned’ if:

  • the tenant has left the property without notice and
  • a notice of termination has not been given by the tenant and
  • a notice to vacate has not been served by the owner.

The property is not abandoned if rent is still being paid for the property. If the owner believes that the property has been abandoned, they may take possession of the property. However, if the owner takes possession but the property has not been abandoned (for example, the tenant is in rent arrears but away on holidays but intending to return), the owner may be in breach of the Residential Tenancy Act 1997.

If the owner is unsure, they may apply to the Magistrates Court of Tasmania for an order declaring that the property has been abandoned.

Disposal or sale of abandoned goods

When a tenant leaves things at the property after they move out, the owner may do one of the following:

Description of goodsAction you can take
Goods are of no valueDonate or throw out the items and sign a Statutory Declaration describing what you have done with the goods
Goods appear to be worth less than $300Sell the items and sign a Statutory Declaration describing what you have done with the goods
Goods appear to be worth $300 or moreApply to the Magistrates Court of Tasmania for an order to sell the goods
Goods appear to belong to someone elseFor example: items bought on hire-purchase, lent or stolen.
Contact the owner of the goods or get advice from Tasmania Police

Selling abandoned goods

When the property owner sells goods that have been abandoned by the tenant, the money can be used to cover any debts owed by the tenant to the owner and the costs of selling the goods. The owner must put any left over money into an interest-bearing account for 6 months after the sale. If the tenant does not claim the proceeds within 6 months, the owner must pay the left-over money to the Rental Deposit Authority.

Updated: 19 Feb 2020