Things that must be stored
The rental provider, owner or agent must store any goods or belongings you left behind for at least 14 days.
However, they do not need to store things that are:
- Not worth any money
- Perishable foods
These may be removed and destroyed or disposed of [section 384].
Exceptions – ‘protected goods’
Some ‘protected goods’ must also be stored safely for at least 14 days, even if they do not have any monetary value. These are:
- Medals or trophies
- Specialised medical devices and equipment, including prostheses
- Prescription medication
- Labelled containers or urns containing human remains [section 384, section 386, regulation 93]
Informing you about storage
The rental provider, owner or agent must take reasonable steps to let you know that your belongings have been stored and explain how you can get them back and what your rights are about the things you left behind [section 386].
When the 14 days start
The 14 days for storage start on the date the rental provider, owner or agent tells you they are storing your things, not on the date you moved out [section 386].
What happens to belongings if you cannot collect them in time
It is important that you collect your belongings in time, because after 14 days, plus any extra days agreed to or ordered by VCAT, the rental provider or owner can sell or dispose of your things. The 14 days starts from the date the rental provider, owner or agent tells you they are storing your things, not from the date you moved out [sections 386 and 391].
If you need extra time to collect belongings
You can ask the rental provider, owner or agent to store your belongings for more than 14 days. If they refuse, you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to order them to store your belongings for more than 14 days [section 395].
When you are charged an ‘occupation fee’
If the amount of goods you left behind stops the rental provider, owner or agent from renting the property, they can ask you to pay an occupation fee for the number of days they had to store your belongings [section 388].
If you pay the occupation fee, the rental provider, owner or agent must not refuse to return your belongings, even if you owe them money for other reasons such overdue rent, also called rent arrears [section 387].
How much you have to pay
The daily occupation fee must not be more than the daily rent. For example, if your goods were stored for 14 days you could be asked to pay an occupation fee equivalent to 14 days rent [section 388].
In some cases, VCAT may order that a higher fee can be charged [sections 395A and 401]. If there is a VCAT hearing for this reason, make sure you go so you can have your say on why higher fees should not be allowed.
What happens if your belongings are put up for sale
You can claim your belongings at any time before they are sold if you pay the occupation fee [section 387].
If your belongings are sold, you can ask for the money from the sale, minus any fees and costs for storing your belongings and arranging for the sale. You need to ask within 6 months of the sale. If you do not, any money left over will be paid to the Residential Tenancies Fund. You will not be able to get that money back [section 392].