Goods left on the premises


Scotland v Solomon [2002] EWHC 1886, ChD, D Kitchin QC sitting as a Deputy. (Solicitors Journal, 4 October 2002, LawBrief).

What does a landlord do with goods left on the premises after the tenant has left? Can he throw them on the street? Can he sell them? Must he look after them for ever?

This case was actually concerned with a charging order. D had been awarded costs of £40,000 and enforced the order against C by charging order. There was subsequently an order for sale and possession was obtained. There was then an issue in relation to goods left on the premises. There was a dispute as to the extent to which C had been given an opportunity to collect all his belongings. The house was then sold and on the sale the purchaser removed the contents. C now claimed that D had unlawfully seized, detained and disposed of his goods. The court refused to strike out the claim and said that the matter should go to trial. By leaving goods on the premises C had failed to give vacant possession. However, the judge held that D could be said to be an involuntary bailer with a duty to act reasonably in regard to the goods left on the premises.

Earlier cases

For earlier cases on this subject in the landlord and tenant context see Alionby v Cohen [1955] 1 QB 559 and also Jones v Gospel [1998] EGCS 108 which would seem to suggest that putting out the goods whilst taking reasonable care not to cause damage is OK (subject of course to the Protection from Eviction Act 1977):

"To place or leave a chattel on the land of another without consent is a trespass and the owner of the land is entitled, taking reasonable care in the circumstances, to remove the offending chattel (Jones v Gospel)."

However, to sell the goods otherwise in accordance with the provisions of the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 would not be ok.

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