What should landlords do with tenants personal documents left behind?

Thursday 03 Jan 2019

When a tenant moves out and leaves personal documents behind, property managers and owners must follow a process to deal with the papers.

It is the property manager/owner to first try to contact the former tenant and return the documents directly.  If the former tenant cannot be contacted, certain documents must be given to the Public Trustee of Queensland as set out under S364 of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008.  Failing to do so may result in financial penalties under the Act.

Some of the items of interest to the Public Trustee are original documents:

  • birth and marriage certificates
  • certificates of education
  • share certificates
  • insurance policies
  • wills (or a copy)
  • Powers of Attorney
  • land ownership documents (i.e. Certificate of Title)
  • group certificates of employment
  • family photographs
  • Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration or Court Order relating to a deceased estate issued less than 1 year ago.

Other documents should be returned to the issuing organisation, such as:

Passports:               Return these to the Australian Passport Office in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Medicare cards:       Return these to the Federal Department of Human Services.

Drivers licences:      Return these to the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, or the equivalent
                                organisation if the licence is issued in a different state.

Bank cards and
Bank statements:     Return these to the bank or financial institution that issued them.

Electricity and
gas accounts:          Return these to the organisation that issued them.