Horror Story - But they were abandoned goods!


A landlord obtains an order for possession through the courts against his tenant. He then applies for a bailiffs appointment and attends at the property with the bailiff. The property is repossessed and the locks are changed, but the property is still full of the tenants furniture. He talks to the tenant (who attends the bailiffs appointment) who promises to come and remove it within two weeks.

However, the tenant fails to collect the goods. The landlord decides to sell the property, but the purchaser refuses to exchange contacts while the ex tenants furniture and other items remain there. The landlord therefore arranges for a house clearance company to come and remove the furniture. The agreement is that they will take their fee from any sale money from the sale of the goods. However the house contents are totally worthless and all of them are dumped. The property is then sold.

Two years later the landlord is surprised to receive a letter from a firm of solicitors claiming £5,000 damages for the value of the goods disposed of. He writes back to the solicitors saying that the goods were abandoned property and in any event were worthless. He is then horrified to receive a county court summons for damages for £5,000 plus a notice saying that the ex tenant is receiving legal aid.

The landlord seeks legal advice and his solicitors tell him that he will have to follow the proper procedures to defend the claim even though there is little chance that it will ultimately succeed. The solicitors file a defence and take a statement from the house clearance company, while at the same time writing to the Legal Services Commission complaining that legal aid has been granted for such a shaky case.

Eventually the legal aid is withdrawn (largely because the ex tenant fails to answer correspondence) and the claim goes no further. However by this time the landlord has run up a legal bill with his solicitors of several thousand pounds, with no chance of claiming this back from the tenant. 


If the landlord had followed the proper procedure under the Goods (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 the former tenant would have had no case.

Note - Landlord Law members (landlords) will find guidance on this proceedure >> here.

The full horror story only happens rarely - but this does not mean it cannot happen to you!



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