I am a landlord, and a previous tenant of mine has left the property. They have left piles of black bags in the rear garden and in the property. Some of the bags contain letters that have been opened. Can I read these letters?

  • I think jurisdiction is going to be a key factor here. So where are you? May 13, 2021 at 10:36
  • Are you the landlord, an agent for the landlord, a new tenant or are you just passing by?
    – user35069
    May 13, 2021 at 11:07
  • Hi Thanks for responding. I am the landlord and the property is in Blackpool. May 13, 2021 at 11:15
  • Are the letters addressed directly to the tenant or are they addressed to "The Occupier". Do you have a reason for reading them besides being nosy? May 13, 2021 at 13:27

1 Answer 1


According to the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977, any possessions left in the property after the tenants have vacated still belongs to the tenant. You are obliged to inform them that they have left some of their possessions behind and you can bill them for any expenses incurred in the disposal of it.

In terms of reading someone else's mail that has been opened you may be liable under article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998, since you are possibly accessing your former tenant's personal information without their consent. However, the specifics of the fact that the mail has been abandoned without care does mean that would an interesting legal matter for the courts.

Unless you have a very good reason to read this mail, I would suggest you contact the former tenant informing them that it has been left behind, and if (as is likely) they claim it's just rubbish, then dispose of it and send a bill to them.

  • Neither you nor the OP have specified a jurisdiction. Are these acts you cite from Afghanistan or Zimbabwe or one of the other countries in between?
    – Dale M
    May 13, 2021 at 12:59
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    @DaleM OP specified Blackpool in a comment, hence my edit to the question to add the UK tag. May 13, 2021 at 13:02
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    @DaleM To pre-empt your "which Blackpool", OP's profile pic is from Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Besides, you constantly add the Australian answer to questions with different or unmarked jurisdictions- the only difference is that you have a mod diamond and the qualified immunity that comes with it. May 13, 2021 at 13:26
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    @GeoffAtkins I confirmed the edit for you but used the england-and-wales tag. May 13, 2021 at 13:28
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    Hi. Thank you for your reply. They are addressed to the previous tenant but we have new tenants moving in. There are a lot of debt agency letters and I want to contact them all to prevent them and/or bailiffs from calling at the property. But obviously taking their information from the letters 'I am not allowed to read'? May 13, 2021 at 13:41

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