Abandoned property 

It can be tricky knowing what you're entitled to do with belongings that someone has left on your property (with or without your permission). In this page we discuss what your rights are in this situation.

If you're a landlord wondering what to do with an ex-tenant's belongings left at the rental property, visit our Boarding house tenancies page. If you're wondering what to do with your ex-flatmate's stuff visit our Flatting issues page.   

I agreed to store a friend’s property in my garage while they were between flats. But it has been a year and they still have not taken it away. Can I get rid of it?

When you agreed to let your friend store their property in your garage  you effectively took on the responsibility of keeping it reasonably safe and letting them retrieve it later. You can’t just get rid of it or treat it as your own just because you’ve decided you have held onto it for too long.

As the property does not belong to you, you do not have the right to sell off or dump it unless you have permission from the owner. If you do, they would be within their rights to call the Police and charge you with wilful damage. They might also be entitled to get compensation from you.

You can try writing a letter (because it’s best to have it in writing - so keep a copy for yourself) to your friend requesting them to remove their property from your garage by a certain date. If they respond you may be able to negotiate an arrangement that suits both of you.

If the written notice has not worked, you could try writing another letter, this time warning that if the property is not removed by a certain date you will move it to another location (it needs to be one in which the property will be secure and safe from damage e.g. a commercial storage facility).

Your letter should state where that location is, how they get to retrieve their property from that location, and what – if any – storage costs they should pay. If they haven’t complied with your request you can apply to the Disputes Tribunal to get them to pay for the storage costs.

Back to top

Someone parked their car on my driveway and just left it there. How can I get rid of it?

If someone has abandoned a vehicle on the side of the road (i.e. on public property), you can just call the local council who will arrange to have it removed.

However, the local council can't help you if it has been abandoned on private property - for example if they park on your driveway or in your place of business (e.g. a car park for customers) without your permission.

In this situation you can report it to the Police as an abandoned vehicle or check the Police website to see if is a stolen vehicle. You could also arrange for the vehicle to be towed away - but unless you can find out who the owner is and are able to contact them, you might have to shoulder the towing cost yourself.