UNCOLLECTED GOODS LAWS

UNDERSTAND YOUR RIGHTS AND THE RIGHTS OF A BUSINESS

This information is found on Consumer Affairs Victoria

Uncollected goods (including vehicles)

‘Uncollected goods’ are items that a consumer has temporarily left with a business, but:

  • has not returned to claim or collect
  • has not told the business what to do with
  • cannot be contacted about, or
  • has not paid the business, within a reasonable time, any costs associated with keeping - also known as ‘the relevant charge’. For more information, view our Relevant charge page.

Examples:

  • A motor mechanic is asked to repair a vehicle, but the owner never returns to pick it up and pay for any work done.
  • a customer stores a vehicle on site and fails to collect after an agreed timeframe; or fails to pay relevant charges

Goods are not ‘uncollected’ if a business:

  • refuses to return or deliver them; or
  • prevents the person who left them with the business from collecting or reclaiming them.

Some exemptions apply. For more information, view Part 4.2 of the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012.

A business must:

  • notify the owner if the business intends to dispose of their uncollected goods
  • hold the goods for a certain time before disposing of them, depending on the nature of the goods (for example, there are different rules for perishable goods and motor vehicles).

For more information about this, view Disposing of uncollected goods section.

 

Stopping a business disposing of goods

Consumers can prevent disposal of their goods by:

  • paying the relevant charge and collecting them
  • making arrangements for their delivery
  • applying to a court or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to resolve a dispute with the business holding them.

 

When a business sells uncollected goods

Any money left over after the business sells the uncollected goods or vehicle, and pays the relevant charge and disposal costs, is ‘unclaimed money’.

They must handle it according to rules set by the Unclaimed Money Act 2008. For more information, visit the Unclaimed money page on the State Revenue Office website.

 

Buying uncollected goods – ‘clear title’

If you buy goods sold under uncollected goods laws, you have ‘clear title’ to them. This means you own the goods - provided that when you bought them, you were not aware of any:

  • failure by the seller to comply with uncollected goods laws
  • problem with the original owner’s title to the goods.

‘Clear title’ also means that the previous owner can no longer claim the goods or ask you to pay any money to be entitled to keep them.

 

Disputes

If you are having a dispute with the store or seller about a problem with a product, view the Resolve your problem or complaint page.

Disposing of low-value uncollected goods and vehicles

 

This information relates to:

  • goods worth less than $200
  • motor vehicles worth less than $1,000.

For information on uncollected goods worth $200 or more, but less than $5,000, view our Medium-value goods page.

For information about uncollected vehicles worth $1,000 or more, or goods worth $5,000 or more, visit our High-value goods and vehicles page.

 

Giving written notice

Before a business can take steps to dispose of any uncollected goods or vehicles, it must give written notice of its intention to do so to the person who left them with the business.

This notice must include certain information - view our Written notice of intention to dispose page.

 

Holding the goods or vehicle

After giving written notice, a business must retain the goods or vehicle for a further 28 days. The business can then dispose of them, unless the owner or person who left them has collected the items or given delivery instructions.

If the business cannot contact the person who left the goods or vehicle - despite making reasonable attempts to notify them in writing - it only has to wait 60 days before taking steps to dispose of the items.

 

Disposing of the goods or vehicle

A business can dispose of low-value goods or vehicles in any way, including by selling, destroying or keeping them for its own use.

The business must record certain details about the goods after disposal. For more information, view our Records of disposal page.

Any money left over after selling the goods or vehicle, and paying the relevant charge and disposal costs, is ‘unclaimed money’. The business must handle it according to rules set by the Unclaimed Money Act 2008. For more information, visit the State Revenue Office website.

If the sale does not cover the relevant charge and disposal costs, the business may pursue the owner or person who left the goods or vehicle for the debt in court.

For more information about the relevant charge, view our Relevant charge page.

 

Selling an uncollected vehicle without a court order - receipt

When a business sells any uncollected vehicle without a court order, it must give the buyer a receipt containing:

  • the seller’s full name, address and date of birth (or their business name, address and ABN)
  • the name of the vehicle’s registered owner. These details can be obtained from VicRoads, for a fee
  • the vehicle’s last registration number (if available) and vehicle identification number
  • the buyer’s full name, address and date of birth
  • the date of sale
  • the sale price
  • a statement that the vehicle has been sold under Part 4.2 of the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012
  • any other information that may be required by the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Regulations 2012.

Both the seller and the buyer must sign the receipt.

For more information, visit the Uncollected vehicles page on the Vic Roads website.

Disposing of high-value uncollected goods and vehicles

The information relates to:

  • goods worth $5,000 or more
  • motor vehicles worth $1,000 or more.

Before disposing of a high-value motor vehicle, the seller must obtain a written search result from the Personal Property Securities Register. There are penalties for failing to do this. Visit the Personal Property Securities Register website. You will need to quote the car’s chassis number or the vehicle identification number (VIN).

For information about uncollected vehicles worth less than $1,000, view our Low-value goods and vehicles page.

For information about uncollected goods worth less than $5,000 (not vehicles), view our Medium-value goods page.

 

Giving written notice

Before taking steps to dispose of any uncollected goods or vehicle, the seller must give written notice of the intention to dispose to:

  • the person who left the goods or vehicle
  • anyone who has registered an interest in the goods or vehicle on the Personal Property Securities Register
  • anyone else the seller is aware of who has (or claims to have) a proprietary or security interest in the goods or vehicle, and
  • the owner or registered operator of the goods or vehicle (if the seller knows this is not the person who left the goods) – see ‘Details of motor vehicle’s registered operator’ below.

In the notice of the intention to dispose, a seller must include certain information - view our Written notice of intention to dispose page.

 

Details of motor vehicle’s registered operator

The seller can apply to VicRoads for a registered operator’s details, for a fee. The application must be in the form of a statutory declaration, and must include:

  • the seller’s full name, address and date of birth (or their business name, address and ABN)
  • the vehicle’s last registration number (if available) and vehicle identification number
  • if the seller has given written notice of the intention to dispose of the vehicle to anyone, a copy of that notice
  • if the seller has applied to a court or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), a copy of the application, and
  • if the seller has obtained a search result from the Personal Property Securities Register, a copy of that search. The seller will have to provide this if applying for details of the registered operator of a high-value motor vehicle.

 

Holding the goods or vehicle

After giving written notice of the intention, the seller must retain the goods or vehicle for a further 28 days. The seller can then dispose of the goods or vehicle, unless the person who left them has collected them or given delivery instructions.

If the seller cannot contact the person who left the goods or vehicle - despite making reasonable attempts to notify them in writing - they must wait 180 days. The seller may then take steps to dispose of the items or vehicle.

 

Disposing of the goods

A business cannot keep high-value uncollected goods or vehicles for its own use. It can only dispose of them by public auction or private sale.

If the seller sells the goods or vehicle at public auction, the auction must be advertised at least seven days in advance or held over a period of at least seven days (for example, an online auction).

If a seller sells the goods or vehicle by private sale, they must:

  • given written notice to all of the people required
  • reasonably believe that the best price could only be achieved by private sale, and
  • take reasonable care to ensure that the goods are sold for the best price that can reasonably be obtained under the circumstances at the time of sale.

The seller must record certain details about the goods or vehicle after disposal. For more information, view our Records of disposal page.

Any money left over after selling the goods or vehicle, and paying the relevant charge and disposal costs, is ‘unclaimed money’. The seller must handle it according to rules set by the Unclaimed Money Act 2008. For more information, visit the State Revenue Office website.

If the sale does not cover the relevant charge and disposal costs, the seller may pursue the owner or person who left the goods or vehicle for the debt in court.

For more about the relevant charge, view our Relevant charge page.

 

Selling an uncollected vehicle without a court order - Receipt

If the seller sells any uncollected vehicle without a court order, they must give the buyer a receipt containing:

  • the seller’s full name, address and date of birth (or their business name, address and ABN)
  • the name of the vehicle’s registered owner
  • the vehicle’s last registration number (if available) and vehicle identification number
  • the buyer’s full name, address and date of birth
  • the date of sale
  • the sale price
  • a statement that the vehicle has been sold under Part 4.2 of the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012.

Both the seller and the buyer must sign the receipt.

Penalties apply for failing to provide a signed receipt that complies with the above requirements.