At the end of a tenancy, there are certain issues that need to be dealt with to finalise the tenancy.
Inspection of premises
The tenant and the landlord (or the landlord's agent) should meet at the premises on the last day - or as soon as possible after the tenant's possessions have been removed and the premises have been cleaned - to inspect the premises. Using the inspection sheets from the commencement of the tenancy both parties need to compare the present state of the premises with the state they were in when the tenancy began.
All keys must be returned to the landlord or the landlord may be able to have new locks fitted at the tenant's expense.
When a tenancy ends the security bond can be claimed by completing a Bond Refund Form and lodging it with the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs (Tenancies Branch of Consumer and Business Services). If both the tenant and landlord sign the form, the bond is paid as agreed.
Where an agreement cannot be reached and one party lodges the form, the Commissioner will post a notice to the other party giving that person 10 days to dispute the application.
If the application is disputed, the Tenancies Branch will attempt to conciliate and if it cannot be conciliated may refer it to the South Austrailan Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT). If the application is not disputed within the 10 days the Commissioner will pay the security bond to the applicant [Residential Tenancies Act 1995 s 63].
Section 97B of the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) details the steps that must be taken by a landlord when dealing with abandoned goods. The action that can be taken depends on the type of goods being dealt with.
Where the property concerned is perishable goods the landlord may, at any time after recovering possession of the premises, remove the perishable goods from the premises and destroy or dispose of them [s 97B(2)].
Abandoned property other than perishable goods that has a value less than it would cost to remove, store and sell
Where the property concerned is not perishable but is of low value the landlord may, after at least two days have passed since recovering possession of the premises, remove such property from the premises and destroy or dispose of them. For items to fall within this category the value of the property must be less than a fair estimate of the cost of removal, storage and sale of the property [s 97B(3)].
Other abandoned property (excluding personal documents)
Where the abandoned property is not perishable or of low value the landlord must, as soon as reasonably practicable, make reasonable attempts to notify the tenant that such property has been found on the premises. The landlord must then take reasonable steps to keep the property safe for a period of at least 28 days after having taken possession of the premises [s 97B(4)].
Advertising is not necessary and the focus is instead on taking reasonable steps to ensure the property is kept safe until at least 28 days after possession of the premises has been recovered.
The owner of the goods stored may, at any time before the goods are sold, reclaim the goods after paying the landlord reasonable costs for the removal and storage of them [s 97B(5)].
If abandoned property is sold the landlord is entitled to recover reasonable costs incurred in removal, storage and disposal of the items as well as any amounts owed to him/her under the residential tenancy agreement [s 97B(7)]. The balance (if there is any) must be paid to the owner of the property, or if the identity and address of the owner are not known to, or reasonably discovered by the landlord, to the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs.
Tenant’s right to return to collect property
Within a period of two days after recovering possession a landlord must allow the tenant access to the premises in order to reclaim any abandoned property [s 97B(2a)]. Abandoned property cannot be removed or disposed of by the landlord during this time.
If a dispute arises regarding the disposal of goods the Tribunal has the power to make orders relating to the disposal, or payment of proceeds from any sale, of abandoned goods [s 97B(8)].
There are different procedures where the abandoned property consists of personal documents. In these cases the landlord must, as soon as practicable, make reasonable attempts to notify the tenant that the documents have been found on the premises. They must then take reasonable steps to keep the documents safe until at least 28 days after possession of the premises is recovered. If the documents are not claimed within this period, the landlord may destroy or dispose of them [s 97C].
These procedures only apply to property left behind after the end of a residential tenancy agreement. In other situations people who are left with unclaimed goods must follow a procedure set out in the Unclaimed Goods Act 1987 (SA).
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