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Commercial Lease - Abandoned Office Furniture?

Discussion in 'Commercial Law Forum' started by AMDaniels, 11 June 2014.

  1. AMDaniels

    AMDaniels Member

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    12 months ago, I signed a sublease for an office from someone who had a 3-year commercial lease. He had previously subleased it to another person who walked away from the office leaving all the furniture and paperwork. He would not collect the paperwork and refused to accept any further calls from me. As the paperwork was highly confidential and he wouldn't collect it, ASIC didn't want it, the police didn't want it either, so we shredded some 200 boxes of it. He left all the furniture here and we never heard from him again.

    Now my landlord has advised me that this person now wants all his furniture back. I had previously been advised that under the law, the furniture was classified as abandoned property after 3 months.

    Can someone please advise me of where I stand under contract law?

    Many thanks.
     
  2. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Hi AMDaniels
    1. Which state/territory are you located in? Disposal of "abandoned goods" laws vary by state.
    2. Did you lease the business premises with the furniture included? The key question is likely who has control over the furniture and the terms in which the furniture was left on the premises.
     
  3. AMDaniels

    AMDaniels Member

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    In Victoria.

    I've had a read of the ACT but it's not clear in this instance. I leased the premises without the furniture but the landlord, who was pretty annoyed with the guy, told me not that seeing as he hadn't responded to any requests, to just keep it. Initially, before I moved in, the sub lessee and I had agreed to enter in to an agreement for me to purchase the furniture over a period of time however, he wouldn't come and clean up his paperwork or return my calls so 12 months later I'm not sure if I am entitled to claim the goods as "abandoned" or not.
     
  4. AMDaniels

    AMDaniels Member

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    Oh and thanks John for responding
     
  5. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Hi AMDaniels,
    If you didn't have an agreement with the former sub-lessee, it is likely that the landlord is responsible for storage, giving notice to the former sub-lessee and disposal of the furniture. In addition, the landlord may only be able to recoup the storage costs and return any difference made in selling the furniture to the State Revenue Office as unclaimed money.

    Given that Victoria changed it's "abandoned goods" laws in mid-2012 (that is, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1958 (Vic) was repealed and replaced by the section 236 of the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012 (Vic)), there's a few resources that you may find useful:
    1. Article by Kliger Partners Lawyers named "Abandoned Goods & Landlords' Obligations";
    2. Article by Hunt & Hunt Lawyers named "Please Dispose"; and
    3. Consumer Affairs Victoria's website section on Disposing of uncollected goods.
    Hope this helps. Please keep us updated with your progress.
     

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