Your organisation has a duty to handle lost property ‘reasonably’ – but what does that mean?

Lost property is a nuisance when you’re focused on making sure your business runs smoothly. It’s a job that is often forgotten (no pun intended). As a result, items end up on the desks of senior staff, stored in offices until they are claimed or eventually disposed of.

Although lost property seems like the customers problem, organisations have a legal obligation to look after it. This must be done in a ‘reasonable’ manner. Want to know more about the laws protecting lost property? Read our blog here to learn more.

We’re here to explain how your organisation can manage lost property ‘reasonably’.


What is ‘reasonable’ lost property management?

Reasonable refers to many aspects of lost property management, including the length of time lost items are stored for.

The Oxford Dictionary defines reasonable as: “fair, practical and sensible”. These are three subjective words, however we can easily relate them to lost property management. Therefore, managing lost property reasonably is simple.


thought lightbulb about lost property ideas

Be Fair.

Firstly, give your visitors enough time to get in contact you and ask for their item back. Most enquiries come within a week or two of items being lost, however this is dependent on the organisation, venue or event.

Be Practical.

Secondly, don’t fill up your office with ancient lost property. The likelihood of lost property being claimed a year after it being lost is very small!

Be Sensible.

Lastly, certain items will clearly have their own ‘expiry’ date, such as food and drink. Don’t keep these items around longer than necessary.

Reasonable storage times might be different depending on the lost property

If you are looking after lost property, you will realise a variety of items will be found. Each individual item will come with its own monetary and sentimental price tag. Therefore, you might want to keep some items longer than others.

However, to make everything easier, let’s group them into come commonly lost items.

– Data-Sensitive Items

– Low Value Items

– High Value Items

– Perishables

Data-sensitive items of lost property

Credit cards, ID cards, passports and medications are commonly misplaced. These are data sensitive items.

Items that contain personal data must be handled in a GDPR compliant fashion. Organisations will keep these items for a limited amount of time. This could be from 1-3 days until they are disposed of correctly.

Read our blog to ensure a GDPR compliant lost property procedure.


Low value items of lost property

Clothing, books and water bottles are low value items but are forgotten easily.

Many of these items will have no monetary or sentimental value. Thus, guests may not put effort into getting them back. Therefore, look after these items for a decent length of time to give your customers the opportunity to retrieve them, but don’t fill up your office space with these common items.

Most organisations hold low value items for 2-4 weeks before disposing of them appropriately.

lost property suitcase left on the train platform
Source: here

High value items of lost property

Electronics, watches and fine jewellery are high value items. Store these safely and maybe for a longer period of time.

The likelihood of your customers enquiring about these items is high. The majority of items will probably be claimed within 2-4 weeks after being lost.

Due to the valuable nature of these items, many organisations hold onto these items for 3-6 months.


We advise that food and drink should be disposed of immediately or by the end of the day.

State your organisations’ lost property procedure

It is beneficial as an organisation to state what your policies are. What might seem reasonable to you, might not seem reasonable to your customers. Especially during an already distressing time.

State your lost property procedure and clearly show your customers that all lost items are treated in a fair, practical and sensible manner.

puzzle piece solving lost property problems

Can NotLost help us to store lost items for a ‘reasonable’ length of time?

Although it seems logical to dispose of lost items after a ‘reasonable’ length of time, it can be confusing to know when this is. Especially if there is no structured system in place.

The NotLost platform easily shows you what items are ‘active’ or ‘expired’. Ensure items are stored for a reasonable length of time before they are discarded. Plus, this will eliminate the risk of disposing items too quickly.

How to be ‘reasonable’ when disposing of lost property?

Great – you’re all experts on storing lost property for a reasonable length of time. However, you will probably also want to know how to get rid of items once the inevitable ‘expiration’ date comes.

At NotLost, we do our very best to be environmentally friendly by supporting ethical disposal routes and ‘zero to landfill’. Read our handy guide on how to dispose of lost items in a responsible manner

Recycle easy using NotLost lost property software

In conclusion

Lost property can be a nuisance. Especially when you need to handle it reasonably, but don’t understand what that means! However, with a reliable system and our handy guidelines, you can do so.

Find out more about how to manage your lost property with a transformational lost and found software solution. Explore our Solutions page. Plus, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to stay up to date with all things lost property!