Can your landlord take your stuff?
When is it legal for my landlord to take my things?
If you leave things behind when you move, your landlord can sell them, keep them, or throw them away. This includes furniture, cars, appliances, clothing, food, or anything else you leave behind. It even includes a mobile home or land lease home.
This applies if:
- you move out after giving notice, after your landlord gave you notice, or after you made an agreement with your landlord to move out,
- you are evicted by an order of the Landlord and Tenant Board, or
- you move without any notice or agreement.
This article describes the laws that apply in each of these situations.
If you have things that you do not fully own, such as a rent-to-own appliance or a car that you are still making payments on, the situation can get complicated. If this applies to you, try to get legal advice.
Different rules also apply when a tenant dies. Please click here for more information.
What if I move because of a notice or agreement?
If you move out:
- after you give your landlord a written notice to end your tenancy,
- after your landlord gives you a written notice to end your tenancy, or
- after you and your landlord agree to end your tenancy,
then your landlord can immediately keep, sell, or throw out anything you leave behind.
So, it is important to take all your belongings with you when you move out. Be sure you move your belongings on or before the date stated in the notice or agreement. Often this is the day before your rent would be due. Even if you plan to move your things the next day, it could be too late. Do not leave anything for later unless your landlord agrees in writing to save it for you.
What if I am evicted by the Landlord and Tenant Board?
If the Landlord and Tenant Board makes an eviction order against you, you have 72 hours after the Sheriff evicts you to get your belongings. During this 72-hour period, your landlord must keep your things safe in your place or nearby, and must let you get them any time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
It is against the law for your landlord not to do this.
You and your landlord can agree to different rules about this. This agreement should be in writing.
NOTE Some non-profit landlords give tenants more than 72 hours to get their things after an eviction. If you live in non-profit housing, check your lease or ask what your landlord's rule is for this.
If your landlord thinks that you have moved without making an agreement, or giving or receiving notice, your place might be considered "abandoned".
IMPORTANT If you are going to be away for a long time, make sure it does not look like you have abandoned your place. The law says your place cannot be considered abandoned if your rent is paid up. Ask a friend or neighbour to check your mail in case you get a notice while you are away.
If your landlord thinks you have abandoned your place, your landlord cannot just take your things. First, your landlord must either:
- apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an order ending your tenancy, or
- give a notice, to both you and the Board, stating that your landlord plans to get rid of your belongings in 30 days. Your landlord does not have to give you this notice in person but can leave it at your apartment.
Your landlord can get rid of any unsafe items right away. Your landlord can keep, sell, or throw out anything else 30 days after the Board made the order or your landlord gave you the notice.
If you contact your landlord within the 30 days and say that you want to pick up your things, your landlord must let you in to pick them up at a reasonable time. Your landlord must store them in your place or nearby.
If you owed any rent when you left, your landlord can make you pay the overdue rent, plus the cost of moving and storing your belongings. If you do not pay the money within the 30 days, you lose your right to get your things back. Remember, this is legal only if you have abandoned your place and your landlord has taken one of the steps mentioned above. In any other situation your landlord cannot take your things just because you owe rent.
If your landlord sells your things after the 30 days, your landlord can keep enough money from the sale to cover any unpaid rent and expenses. If there is any money left over, you can claim it by contacting your landlord within 6 months from the day:
- the Board made its order, or
- your landlord gave you the notice about getting rid of your things.
If your landlord will not give you this money, or you believe that there was money left over and your landlord says there was not, contact a lawyer or community legal clinic. You can apply to the Board to get this money back. Click here for more information.