What do games consoles, designer clothes and coffee tables have in common?

They are among the many personal possessions to have been left behind by tenants after they have moved out of private rented properties in Scotland. To some that may be surprising - that people would leave their belongings (some of which could be considered valuable) behind - but it is actually quite a common occurrence.

The reasons for tenants moving on minus that television or flatpack wardrobe are varied: they could be moving to a new property that is fully furnished, or one that doesn't have as much space as the one they're leaving; they could be moving in with a partner at their property and the pair have realised they don't need two kettles or two ironing boards; perhaps they've come from overseas to study in Scotland and on returning home it's simply not practical or necessary to relocate a chest of drawers from St Andrews to Seattle; maybe the item has just reached the end of its use for them - a stereo that they had when they moved in, but that they haven't touched in over a year.

A common - and well intentioned - misconception among people leaving items in their rented property when they move out is that they are doing the landlord or the new tenant a favour. That the landlord gains a rug; that the next person who moves in might like that canvas print of the Eiffel Tower.

Unfortunately however, leaving your items in your rented property could result in a deduction from your tenancy deposit...

An important part of a well-managed tenancy is an inventory - a list of everything in the property, such as furniture, decor, fixtures and fittings, and the condition they are in when you move in. Both the landlord/letting agent and the tenant should sign the inventory, and at the end of the tenancy this document is used to compare the condition of the property with its condition at the start. To help ensure that your deposit is returned to you in full, you should study the inventory and make sure that you return the property in exactly the condition you found it - albeit with fair wear and tear taken into account.

If, for example, you move out and leave a bookcase that you purchased in the middle of the hallway then you are not leaving the property in the condition that you found it. While that may sound a little harsh, particularly if it's a good quality bookcase and you think that either the landlord or the new tenant will benefit from it, the landlord may simply not want the item to be in the property. It therefore becomes a matter of cleaning - the property could be spotless from floor to ceiling but if there are items that don't belong there and the landlord needs to arrange an uplift or hire a van to remove things themselves, incurring a cost in doing so, then they have a case to propose a deduction from the tenancy deposit to cover those costs.

If you no longer require a particular item or items there are a variety of options available to you. Where appropriate you could be charitable and donate your surplus belongings to a charity shop - some charities even have bigger outlets that stock second-hand furniture and can collect from you. If it's a bulky item like furniture and not in a sellable condition, and you don't have the means to take it to a refuse or recycling centre, then check with your local council about their bulk uplift arrangements. Another option is selling - you could earn a few pounds selling items via the big e-commerce sites and there are even local listing and social media options where you can advertise to nearby audiences with an option for them to collect - again, a handy way to remove larger items from the property at no cost to yourself or your landlord. And of course you make a profit, which is far better than losing part of your deposit because you've left the item in the property.

It is extremely important to note that the above recommendations apply to your own possessions only! Getting rid of inventoried items that came with the property and belong to the landlord would most certainly give them a case to make a deduction from the deposit for missing items.

As with many matters relating to tenancies, communication between parties is useful and - if you feel you have a strong pitch for leaving an item in the property rather than selling, recycling or binning - you could always make the suggestion to your landlord before the tenancy ends. If they agree, then get this in writing; if they don't want the item left then you know you need to look at plan B.