What can we do about the goods left behind after a forfeiture?


Following a lease forfeiture there may be goods left behind that belong to the tenant. What options are available to the landlord for the disposal of the goods left behind?

What can we do about the goods left behind after a forfeiture?

Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977

Following a lease forfeiture there can be goods belonging to the tenant left behind in the building. The landlord cannot simply dispose of them as they are covered by the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977.

The act makes the landlord an involuntary bailee. A bailee is an individual who temporarily gains possession, but not ownership, of a good or other property under a bailment. The landlord becomes responsible for the goods in the building until they are returned to the rightful owner.

If another person, such as the landlord or their bailiff or agent, sells or disposes of those goods without going through the correct procedure then the tenant can sue them for conversion, trespass or negligence.

Options to dispose of the goods

There are a few actions a landlord can take, and it would always be best to take legal advice from a suitably qualified person.

One way if the landlord does not want to deduct monies owed from the proceeds is to allow the tenant to remove their goods therefore getting rid of the problem.

If the goods are not going to be collected immediately then a Torts inventory should be completed by an independent and qualified person such as a Certificated Enforcement Agent who hold a qualification to do this.

A Torts notice should be posted on the door and served in the prescribed manner giving the tenant at least 14 days notice that they need to move their belongings.

If they ask for access within the 14 days then they should be given supervised access to collect their goods. This can be done by the bailiff or by the landlord.

If they fail to apply to remove their goods within this time then subject to legal advice the landlord can dispose of them and keep account of what happened to them.

Quality Bailiffs can help with this with our Torts service where we draw up the notices, do the inventory serve the notices, liaise with the tenant and allow supervised access to the former tenant. We can also liaise with contractors to arrange for clearance or for the goods to be taken to auction.

We can help

Quality Bailiffs has over twenty five years of experience in possessions, seizure, removal and sale of goods, especially in the commercial rent sector.

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