If goods or documents are left in the rented premises after the The agreement between a landlord and a tenant for the rental of a property. agreement has terminated, the RT A written law made by parliament. Also called an ‘Act of parliament’, ‘statute’ or legislation. imposes obligations on the landlord regarding those goods and documents. It is The most important thing, above anything else. An act of paramount force is one that cannot be made subject to another for its operation. that the tenant takes photos of their personal goods (1) Having control over property. Possession is not the same as ownership. For example, a bicycle you have borrowed from a friend is in your possession but you do not own it. (2) Having illegal drugs on your person or property. and documents. It is preferable to remove as much property as possible rather than leave them in the rented premises.
Further, it is generally recommended, if a tenant is excluded by reasons of the execution of a A document issued by a court directing an officer to take certain action. May be a warrant of apprehension, directing that a person be arrested and brought before a court; a warrant of commitment, directing that a person be arrested and imprisoned; a warrant of distress, directing that a person’s goods be seized to satisfy a debt; or a warrant of seizure and sale of real estate. of possession or any other reasons, and that if a A person or organisation directly involved in a court case. Parties include the plaintiff or applicant, the defendant, and any third party added to the action, but not independent witnesses. wishes to regain access to collect their goods and documents, they should make an urgent application to VCAT, By authority of, or in accordance with, or as directed by, some court order or legislation. section 397.
If the landlord disposes of, destroys or sells the tenant’s goods or documents, and has not complied with the abandoned goods provisions (pt 9 RT Act), the tenant or another person who has a lawful right to the goods or documents can apply for compensation (s 396) (see ‘Compensation claims’, below).
Destruction and disposal
A landlord may remove and destroy or dispose of goods if they are of no monetary value, or are perishable foodstuffs, or are dangerous (s 384(1)).
The landlord may also remove and destroy or dispose of the goods if the total estimated cost of removal, storage and sale of all the goods is greater than the total monetary value of all the goods combined (s 384). This does not authorise the landlord to keep the goods for their own use.
The landlord can ask the Director of CAV about whether particular goods may be disposed of (s 385).
It is not uncommon for the director’s statement to value a tenant’s goods at substantially less than what it might cost the tenant to actually replace their goods. As such, it is not uncommon for a statement to direct that the landlord may dispose of the tenant’s goods in accordance with section 384. As such, it is advisable that the tenant negotiate with the landlord to retrieve any goods that have been left in the rented premises as soon as possible.
It is not Required by law to be done; a law that must be strictly complied with. Under mandatory reporting, people in particular jobs to tell a government agency if they know an offence is being committed – for example, doctors and teachers must report child abuse. Mandatory sentencing requires judges to give an automatic jail term for certain offences. for the landlord to obtain such a statement. However, the RT Act protects landlords who dispose of goods in reliance upon a Director’s statement. In those circumstances, if the landlord is found liable to compensate the owner of the goods for wrongful disposal, the landlord can apply to VCAT for compensation to be paid out of the Residential Tenancies Fund (s 402). For more information, contact CAV (see ‘Contacts’ at the end of this chapter).
If goods are not to be destroyed or disposed of, the landlord must store the goods in a safe place and manner for at least 28 days (s 386(1)).
Within seven days of storing the goods, the landlord must send notice to the tenant’s forwarding address advising them that the goods have been stored, and what the tenant must do to recover them. If the landlord does not have the tenant’s forwarding address, they must put a notice in a newspaper circulating throughout Victoria (s 386(2)).
Claiming stored goods
The owner of the goods may reclaim them at any time before they are sold (s 389(1)). Before returning the goods, the landlord is permitted to require the owner of the goods to pay the reasonable The amount charged by a lawyer for legal work. Lawyers can only charge the amount agreed with the client in a costs agreement or the amount stated by a court in its rules. The party who loses a case usually has to pay all their own costs plus most of the costs reasonably incurred by the other side. See also indemnity costs. of the landlord in notifying the tenant, removing and storing the goods and organising their sale. The landlord must not refuse to give the goods back once those costs have been met (s 389(2)).
The RT Act defines personal documents as ‘official documents, photographs, correspondence or any other document which it would be reasonable to expect that a person would want to keep’ (s 3). An extended definition of ‘document’ is provided at section 38 of the Interpretation of Statutory rules made by parliament or by bodies the parliament delegates power to, for example a local council or a registration authority. See delegated legislation; statute. Act 1984 (Vic). That definition is very broad and includes books, films and audio CDs.
If the tenant leaves behind personal documents, the landlord must take reasonable care of them for at least 90 days. The landlord may remove the documents but must not destroy or dispose of them. Reasonable steps to notify the tenant as to how they can collect the documents must be made (s 380). If after 90 days the owner of the documents has not reclaimed them, the landlord may dispose of them provided there is no other Act or law requiring that they be dealt with in another manner (s 381).
The owner of the documents may reclaim them at any time before they are disposed of. Before returning the documents, the landlord is permitted to require the owner of the documents to pay the reasonable costs of the landlord in notifying the tenant, and removing and taking care of the documents (s 382).