Hey Lifehacker, Recently I experienced a relationship breakdown. I still have two rooms of my ex's stuff that I do not own and I don't want in my house. At what stage can I dispose of this?
Is waiting more than six months a reasonable amount of time? At what point can I reasonably claim the stuff is mine, or start charging for storage? I have followed up with my ex, but I am not getting any response. Any advice? Thanks, Need The Space
Photo: puuikibeach, Flickr
The important factor here is to ensure their tenancy has officially ended -- if they are still on the lease you usually aren't allowed to move their possessions without permission; even if they've stopped paying their share of the rent. The only exception to this rule are rubbish and perishable items which can be removed immediately.
If you own the property or are the only name on the lease, you are under no obligation to store another person's possessions. However, before you do anything rash, you need to notify your partner -- preferably by email or text message so there's an existing record of your correspondence. In most states and territories, valuable goods need to be kept in storage for at least 14 days after you've notified the tenant to come and collect them.
When the deadline has been reached, you're usually entitled to donate the goods to charity, dispose of them in a lawful manner or keep them for yourself. (If you choose to sell the goods, you're supposed to give the proceeds to the tenant, however. No really.)
Interestingly, landlords may be able to charge an 'occupation fee' for retrieval of the goods if they prevented him/her from renting the premises. In NSW, an occupation fee (equal to a day’s rent) can also be charged for each day the goods are held up to maximum of 14 days. However, this is a lot trickier to pursue if it was a de facto relationship with no rental agreement in place.
You can find out what your specific rights are in regards to unclaimed property in each state via the following links:
- NSW: NSW Fair Trading, Tenants NSW
- Victoria: Consumer Affairs Victoria, Tenants Union Of Victoria
- Queensland: Residential Tenancies Authority, Tenants' Union Of Queensland
- WA: Department Of Commerce, Tenants Advice Service
- SA: SA.gov.au, Tenants Information And Adovacy Service
- Tasmania: Consumer Affairs And Fair Trading, Tenants' Union Of Tasmania
- NT: Consumer Affairs, Tenants' Advice Service
- ACT: ACT Government, Tenants' Union Of ACT
Bear in mind that the above advice is designed with an amicable breakup in mind. If things were messy, it's possible you might be looking for revenge. With that in mind, I asked a female colleague who had recently been burned by a crappy boyfriend to share her thoughts on your situation. Here are her two cents:
After the relationship is over and on bad terms, it’s fair game. You have done your due diligence by contacting him about collecting his stuff. It would be smart to keep conversation in writing, be it text or emails, so he can’t turn around and accuse you of ruthlessly disposing of his belongings.
I would send him one more text stating you intend to dispose of his goods, giving a definite deadline for collection. Once the deadline is reached and he has yet to respond or come to collect, throw it all out. You’re not Kennard’s Self Storage.
If any readers have additional tips, hacks or anecdotes of their own, please let NTS know in the comments section below.
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