Strata schemes and uncollected or abandoned goods

Collection of domestic appliances

In residential strata schemes, abandoned goods and uncollected items spark more than curiosity or annoyance. They pose a moral dilemma. Like, what should you do with them? From dusty bicycles to forgotten couches, you’d be surprised at what might actually be left behind. And what you should do before disposing of them depends on a few factors.

At All Suburbs Strata Management, with over 35 years of experience in residential strata management in Sydney and on the Central Coast, our experienced team have had a few encounters with cases of abandoned goods. Here’s our guide on what to do with those items you really don’t want to keep around forever.

What to consider when disposing of abandoned goods

Because abandoned or uncollected goods still technically belong to their owner, you must follow certain rules before getting rid of them. The authority to remove these items lies with the strata committee, which may delegate the task to either the strata manager or the building manager. Before removal, an attempt must be made to locate the owner. Depending on the type of goods, this can be done in person, by letter or email, using a ‘disposal notice’. The owners corporation is expected to exert reasonable efforts to locate the owner so they can be issued the notice.

Different items have varying disposal protocols. For instance, while no notice is necessary for the careful disposal of rubbish, food or plants, personal documents require written notice and a waiting period of 28 days before you are permitted to securely destroy them.

The major determining factor is usually the monetary value of the item or items. For goods worth under $1000, it is necessary to inform the owner either in writing or verbally and wait for a minimum of 14 days. If the property remains unclaimed after this timeframe, it can be disposed of using an appropriate method.

For items valued between $1000 and $20,000, you must notify the owner of the goods in writing and wait at least 28 days before you can dispose of them via a public auction or private sale for fair market value.

To handle property valued over $20,000, it is necessary to obtain an order from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. This order will specify the procedures for notifying the owner, the duration for awaiting a response and the suitable method for disposal.

If a car is abandoned on a strata property, disposal is only permissible with evidence confirming it is not stolen. This evidence should include a certificate from the Commissioner of Police and a written search result from the Personal Property Securities Register, which can be acquired with assistance from local police. Following the acquisition of these documents, cars can be disposed of according to uncollected goods regulations, with allowances for interim moving and storage.

Items not eligible for disposal

Specific uncollected goods pose unique disposal challenges. Some examples are lost or abandoned pets, goods entrusted to storage companies and funds belonging to individuals who cannot be located.

Should any of these or other items be left within a residential strata building or abandoned on common property, it is imperative to inform your strata manager or strata committee immediately. They have the necessary expertise to handle such situations effectively, ensuring compliance with relevant regulations and safeguarding the interests of all residents.

businessman holding envelope with blank paper sheet

What information does a disposal notice contain?

The written notice requires several key elements, such as the name of a representative from the strata owners corporation, a detailed description of the goods in question and a designated collection address for the owner. Additionally, it must outline any associated costs for removal, storage, maintenance or related expenses, as well as clarify whether funds from the sale of the goods will be utilised to cover these charges.

Most importantly, the notice should clearly state that unless the goods are retrieved and associated fees settled, they will either be sold, retained or disposed of following a specified deadline.

Although items cannot be disposed of without notifying their owner, those left on common property may be relocated and stored elsewhere prior to or while awaiting disposal. Legally, the owners corporation must make a diligent attempt to locate the owner. If the owner cannot be found, the goods should be transferred to storage, with a notice of disposal prominently displayed on common property.

Why choose All Suburbs Strata Management?

In strata living, various circumstances may lead to the intentional or unintentional abandonment of belongings, such as tenants moving out hastily or forgetfulness during relocation. If you stumble upon items that appear to have been deserted for any reason, notify either your strata manager or strata committee for appropriate action.

In situations of uncertainty, it’s wise for the strata owners corporation to seek legal advice to ensure compliance and minimise the risk of dispute.

Disputes regarding uncollected or abandoned goods can be made by contacting the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

At ASSM, we have over 35 years of experience in strata management, covering all suburbs in Sydney, and we are experts in residential, community, commercial and industrial strata schemes. We also assist developers in preparing for registration and provide strata reports and inspections.

We will ensure your strata scheme runs as smoothly as possible. When considering buying into a strata scheme or wanting to engage a professional and qualified team, contact ASSM today.

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