The tenant left behind their belongings – What now?

There are four different scenarios for you to distinguish when it comes to tenant belongings that were left behind.

1. The tenant has vacated based on a notice

This scenario includes a notice that they received from the landlord, e.g. (N4, N5 etc.), the tenant notice given to the landlord (N9), a mutual agreement (N11) or an order of termination by the LTB.

There are belongings on the premises, the question now becomes whether it is clear that the tenant has moved out. Once it is clear you are allowed to sell, keep or dispose of the belongings. But how can you be sure that the tenant vacated the unit? The following indicators will help you determine:

  • Are the keys returned / left in mailbox?
  • Did anybody witness them moving out?
  • Did you receive their email or text message saying they are leaving
  • Were the utilities disconnected?

If you are not sure, it is advisable going through an eviction process via L2.

2. The tenant is evicted by the sheriff

Once the eviction is completed, the landlord has to give the tenant 72 hours to collect her belongings. Those must be available to the tenant between the daily hours of 8 AM - 8 PM. Best practice would be to coordinate the pick up time with the tenant. After the lapse of the 72 hours the landlord can sell, keep or dispose.

3. The tenant abandons the unit

There is no agreement or notice to end to the tenancy, nor an LTB order. The tenant is in arrears and vacated the rental unit. If the rent is still being paid, the unit cannot be considered abandoned. Other factors to determine whether you are dealing with abandonment are:

  • Did they inform anybody of their move or did somebody witness them moving out?
  • Is the mail being picked up?
  • Are the utilities disconnected?

If you are uncertain, it is once again recommended to follow the L2 proceedings. Once you have confirmed abandonment, there are two possible options for you in dealing with the belongings. Either you apply for termination with the LTB based on abandonment (L2), or you give notice to the tenant as well as the LTB that the belongings will be disposed of if not picked up within 30 days. If the tenant gets in touch with you and comes out to pick up their belongings, you can request for them to pay any outstanding rent (as well as incurred out of pocket expenses).

4. The tenant has died
The RTA provides that a tenancy terminates 30 days after the death of a tenant. A surviving spouse can remain in the unit as a tenant. The landlord has to leave the belongings in the unit for the 30 day period. You need to provide reasonable access for an executor or family member to remove the belongings. After 30 days you can sell, keep or dispose of the belongings. There is a six-month period within which the tenant's family can claim back the belongings or any sales proceeds.

Much more detail on all these cases is provided on the LTB website:

LTB: Brochures