If rented premises in a residential park appear to have been abandoned by the resident, a park owner may apply to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (Tribunal) for an order to have the premises declared abandoned. Once such an order is given, the premises are considered abandoned from the date specified on the order.
The park owner must present evidence to the Tribunal to support their claim that the premises have been abandoned. This may include statements from witnesses, notices of disconnection of electricity, telephone or gas, empty premises etc.
An application to the Tribunal is not necessary if there is sufficient information to be certain that the premises have been abandoned. In this situation, the park owner may enter the premises to help determine if it is really abandoned and can secure it immediately, though it may be advisable to obtain an order or seek further advice.
The resident who abandons the residential premises is liable to pay compensation to the park owner for any loss (eg. loss of rent) caused by the abandonment. The park owner should take all reasonable steps to minimise any loss. If steps are not taken by the park owner to avoid the loss, compensation for that loss may not be recoverable.
Items that have been left in the residential premises by the resident after vacating become ‘uncollected goods’. If these goods remain in the premises for 2 working days after the resident has vacated, they may be disposed of if their value is estimated not to be higher than the cost of removal and storage. Otherwise they must be stored in a safe place. Goods may be stored inside the dwelling and the dwelling may be ‘stored’ on the site. If the goods are perishable foodstuffs, they may be disposed of immediately.
‘Goods’ may include any relocatable home or other dwelling owned by the resident. This type of uncollected good can only be disposed of or otherwise dealt with by Tribunal order.
Residents may apply to the Tribunal for orders that the park owner deliver to them the goods left behind. Persons other than residents and park owners who may have an interest in the goods also have the right to apply to the Tribunal (eg. an appliance hire company).
Once the uncollected goods have been stored for 30 days, they may be sold by public auction.
The park owner is required to account to the resident for the balance of the proceeds of the sale after the deduction of the reasonable costs of removal, storage and sale of the goods.
If the uncollected goods are stored, a park owner must take the following steps within seven days of placing the goods into storage:
The notice may be given to the resident by posting it to the last forwarding address known to the park owner. It may also be given to a person who was nominated by the resident before the resident vacated the premises.
The notice must contain the following:
A person who is entitled to possession of the goods left in the premises may claim them at any time before they are disposed of or sold, provided the park owner is satisfied that the claim is genuine.
The park owner is entitled to require payment of the actual costs of removal and storage of the goods being claimed before allowing the goods to be collected.
If the claim is for some but not all of the uncollected goods, and the remaining goods are still worth enough to cover reasonable costs of removal and storage of all of the goods, the park owner must deliver up those claimed goods without requiring payment for the costs of removal and storage of those claimed goods.
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