Property Left Behind When a Tenant Moves Out


Information in this brochure

The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) contains a number of rules about how to deal with a tenant’s property that is left behind when the tenant moves out of a rental unit. The RTA contains five different sets of rules. Which rules apply in a situation will depend on how and why the tenant left the rental unit.

A landlord who follows these rules and who takes reasonable care to keep the tenant’s property safe while storing it, will not be liable if they sell, keep, or ‘dispose of’ (give away or throw away) the property that the tenant has left in the unit. This means that if the landlord follows the rules when dealing with property that a tenant has left in a rental unit, they can’t be:

However, if the landlord does not follow the rules before they sell, keep or dispose of a tenant’s property, the tenant may take action against the landlord and the landlord may be held liable. If you are a landlord or a tenant and you are unsure which set of rules applies to your situation, you should get legal advice.

This brochure explains the different rules in the RTA that must be followed when dealing with property that a tenant leaves behind when they move out of their rental unit. This brochure is not a complete summary of the law and it is not intended to provide legal advice. If you require more information, please see For More Information at the end of this brochure.

Note: The rules in this brochure may not apply to situations where a tenant moves out or dies and their spouse remains in the unit. In these situations before you proceed, you should get more information from the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). You may also want to get legal advice before you take any action.

Table of Contents

Tenant Moves Out According to a Notice or an Agreement to Terminate, an LTB Order, or Tenant’s Job as Superintendent has Ended

What rules apply in these situations?

If a tenant leaves property behind after moving out for one of these reasons then, in most cases, the landlord may immediately sell, keep or dispose of any property the tenant has left behind. This applies if the tenant moved out according to:

This also applies if:

However, regardless of which of these reasons caused the tenant to move out, the landlord and the tenant can agree to other terms about what is to be done with the property that the tenant left behind. For example, a landlord and a tenant may agree that the tenant can store their sofa in the basement for two weeks after the tenant leaves the unit.

A landlord who follows these rules and who takes reasonable care to keep the tenant’s property safe while storing it, will not be liable for selling, retaining or disposing of the tenant’s property.

Note: There are other rules that must be followed if the Sheriff enforced the eviction. ‘Enforced the eviction’ means that the Sheriff visited the unit to evict the tenant (see Sheriff Evicts the Tenant).

Sheriff Evicts the Tenant

What rules apply in this situation?

If a tenant leaves property behind after the Sheriff has enforced the LTB’s order and evicted them, the landlord must give the tenant 72 hours to get their property from the rental unit or some storage area that is safe and close to the rental unit, before selling, keeping or disposing of the tenant’s property.

Note: This rule does not apply if the property the tenant leaves behind is a mobile home owned by the tenant (see Tenant Abandons Their Mobile Home).

What can be done with the tenant’s property during the 72 hours?

During the 72 hours after the Sheriff has evicted the tenant, the landlord may leave the property in the rental unit, or they can move it to a safe location that is close to the unit.

The tenant can get their property back during this 72 hour period. The landlord must make the tenant’s property available to the tenant between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. during the 72 hour period.

However, the landlord and the tenant can agree to other terms about what is to be done with the property that the tenant leaves behind.

What happens if the tenant doesn’t come to get their property?

Unless the landlord and tenant agree to other terms, if the tenant doesn’t come to get their property during the 72 hour period, they no longer have any claim to it and they lose all rights to it.

Once the 72 hours has passed, the landlord can sell, keep or dispose of the tenant’s property. A landlord who follows these rules and who takes reasonable care to keep the tenant’s property safe while storing it, will not be liable for selling, retaining or disposing of the tenant’s property.

What happens if the landlord doesn’t follow these rules?

If the landlord does not let the tenant get their property back during the 72 hour period, or if the landlord sells, keeps or disposes of the property before the 72 hours has passed, the tenant can do one or both of the following things.

What can the tenant do if the landlord doesn’t follow these rules?

1. Contact the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s Investigation and Enforcement Unit

The tenant can contact the Investigation and Enforcement Unit (IEU) if their landlord has not followed these rules, because it is an offence under the RTA not to follow them.

After talking to the tenant and obtaining more details, staff at the IEU may contact the landlord and inform them about the rules that must be followed when a tenant is evicted by the Sheriff and the tenant leaves property in the rental unit.

If the landlord refuses to follow the rules and refuses to make arrangements for the tenant to get back their property, IEU might start an investigation. This investigation may result in the landlord being taken to court. If the landlord is found guilty, the court could lay charges and set a fine. An individual may be fined up to $25,000 – a corporation fined up to $100,000.

2. File a T2 Application about Tenant’s Rights with the LTB

The tenant can also file an application with the LTB if the landlord didn’t let the tenant get their property back. On this type of application, the LTB can order the landlord to do one or more of the following:

The tenant may also want to ask the LTB to hold the hearing as soon as possible so that they can get their property back quickly. To do this, the tenant will have to fill out one of the LTB’s forms called Request to Extend or Shorten Time and give it to the LTB when they file their application.

Tenant Abandons the Rental Unit

What does “abandons the rental unit" mean?

A tenant has abandoned the rental unit if the tenant owes rent and moves out without:

Note: A rental unit is not considered to be abandoned if the tenant’s rent has been paid and their rent it is up-to-date.

What rules apply in this situation?

If a tenant leaves property behind after they have abandoned the rental unit, and the landlord wants to sell, keep or dispose of the property, the landlord must do one of the following things:

Note: If the landlord doesn’t know the tenant’s new address, the notice can be sent to the tenant’s last known address or to the tenant’s business address (if the landlord knows it).

Note: If there is no property left in the rental unit, and the landlord is sure that the tenant has abandoned the unit, they do not have to apply to the LTB for an order ending the tenancy. However, the landlord can still apply if they want to get an LTB order that clearly states that the tenant has abandoned the unit and the landlord now has the right to rent it to someone else.

What can be done with the tenant’s property?

The landlord must wait 30 days after they gave the notice to the tenant or received the order from the LTB stating that the unit was abandoned, before they can sell, keep or dispose of the tenant’s property. The landlord can leave the tenant’s property in the rental unit, or move it and store it in a safe location close to the unit.

Note: The landlord can dispose of any unsafe or unhygienic items (for example, rotting food) in the unit right away.

What if the tenant tells the landlord they will be coming to get their property during the 30 day period?

If, during the 30 day period, the tenant tells the landlord that they want to get their property, the landlord must allow the tenant to get it. The tenant can make arrangements to get their property back from the landlord at a reasonable time.

However, before allowing the tenant get their property, the landlord can require the tenant pay any:

What happens if the tenant doesn’t come to get their property during the 30 day period?

After the 30 days have passed, the landlord can sell, keep or dispose of the tenant’s property.

But, the tenant may still claim any money the landlord may have made from selling their property for up to 6 months after the date the order was made or the notice was given (see the next section).

What happens if the tenant claims their property within the 6 month period?

What the tenant can claim will depend on what the landlord did with the tenant’s property after the 30 day period ended.

After the 30 day period ends, but within 6 months of the order date or the date that the notice was given:

If the landlord… then the tenant can… but the landlord may…
kept the property do nothing - the property they left in the unit is now the landlord’s. N/A
sold the property ask the landlord for the proceeds from the sale of the property, subtract any rent and any of the landlord’s out-of-pocket expenses that the tenant owes before giving the tenant the proceeds from the sale.
disposed of the property do nothing to claim or to be compensated for the property they left in the unit. N/A

A landlord who follows these rules and who takes reasonable care to keep the tenant’s property safe while storing it, will not be liable for selling, retaining or disposing of the tenant’s property.

Tenant Abandons Their Mobile Home

When might a tenant’s mobile home be “abandoned”?

A tenant’s mobile home has been abandoned if the tenant has moved out because the tenant:

What rules apply in this situation?

Once the tenancy of a mobile home park tenant is terminated in one of the ways listed above, the landlord must notify the tenant that they are going to sell, keep or dispose of the tenant’s mobile home.

The landlord must notify the tenant in two ways. The landlord must:

The tenant has 60 days from the date that the landlord gives these notices to claim their mobile home. After the 60 days have passed, the landlord can sell, keep or dispose of the tenant’s mobile home.

But, the tenant may still claim their mobile home or the money the landlord received for it, for up to 6 months after the date the notices were given (see the next section).

What if the tenant tells the landlord they will be coming to get their mobile home during the 60 day period?

Within the 60 day period, the tenant can claim their mobile home.

However, before the landlord returns the mobile home to the tenant, the landlord can require the tenant pay any:

What happens if the tenant claims their mobile home within the 6 month period?

What the tenant can claim will depend on what the landlord did with the tenant’s mobile home after the 60 day period ended.

After the 60 day period has ended, but within 6 months of the notices:

If the landlord… then the tenant can ask the landlord… but the landlord may…
kept the property to return the home, and they must return it, require the tenant to pay any rent the tenant owes the landlord and any of the landlord’s out-of-pocket expenses before returning the mobile home
sold the property for the proceeds from the sale of the home, subtract any rent and any of the landlord’s out-of-pocket expenses that the tenant owes the landlord before giving the tenant the proceeds from the sale.
disposed of the property for nothing - the tenant cannot claim the mobile home or claim compensation. N/A

A landlord who follows these rules and who takes reasonable care to keep the tenant’s property safe while storing it, will not be liable for selling, retaining or disposing of the tenant’s property.

Tenant Dies

What rules apply in this situation?

If a tenant dies, and there are no other tenants occupying the rental unit, the RTA states that the tenancy agreement ends 30 days after the tenant dies.

However, the RTA allows the landlord and either an executor or administrator of the estate (or a family member - if there is no executor or administrator) to come to any other agreement about ending the tenancy and about selling, keeping or disposing of the deceased tenant's property.

Note: The regular rules that apply to a tenancy when a tenant dies do not apply when a tenant who owns a mobile home dies. (See the section Death of a Mobile Home Tenant for more information.)

What can be done with the deceased tenant’s property?

Because the tenancy agreement is still in effect for 30 days following the tenant’s death, the landlord must leave the deceased tenant’s property in the unit for this 30 day period.

Note: The landlord can dispose of any unsafe or unhygienic items (for example, rotting food) in the unit right away.

What if the estate’s representative wants to get the property during the 30 day period?

The landlord must allow the estate’s representative reasonable access to the unit and the residential complex during the 30 days following the tenant’s death to remove the deceased tenant's property.

What happens if the estate’s representative doesn’t get the property during the 30 day period?

After the 30 days have passed, the landlord can sell, keep or dispose of the deceased tenant’s property.

But, the estate’s representative may still claim the deceased tenant’s property or the money the landlord received for it, for up to 6 months after the date that the tenant died.

What happens if the estate’s representative claims the property within the 6 month period?

What the estate’s representative can claim will depend on what the landlord did with the deceased tenant’s property after the 30 day period ended.

After the 30 day period following the tenant’s death has ended, but within 6 month’s of the tenant’s death:

If the landlord… then the tenant can ask the landlord… but the landlord may…
kept the property (as opposed to selling it) to return the property to them. N/A
sold the property for the proceeds from the sale of the home, subtract any rent and any of the landlord’s out-of-pocket expenses the estate owes the landlord before giving the estate’s representative the proceeds from the sale.
disposed of the property for nothing - the estate cannot reclaim or seek compensation for the property. N/A

A landlord who follows these rules and who takes reasonable care to keep the tenant’s property safe while storing it, will not be liable for selling, retaining or disposing of the tenant’s property.

Death of a mobile home tenant

When a tenant who owns a mobile home dies, the rules listed above in Tenant Dies do not apply.

In this situation, the estate takes over the tenancy agreement after the tenant’s death. The tenancy then continues until it is ended in a way that is allowed under the RTA. The LTB’s brochures, How a Tenant Can End Their Tenancy and How a Landlord Can End a Tenancy explain the ways that a tenancy can be properly ended under the RTA.

For More Information

Other related brochures

The LTB also has brochures on these related topics:


Contact the Landlord and Tenant Board

This brochure provides general information only. For more information about the law, or to obtain copies of the LTB’s forms and publications, you can:

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