How long must a person wait before they can dispose of abandoned construction equipment?

I have a friend who has some construction tools and equipment on their site that have not been retrieved by the construction company. The construction company has been contacted several times to come and pick up the equipment but has not responded. It has been over 30 days, at what point can my friend consider the equipment and tools abandoned? And then how can they dispose of the items?

Asked on July 31, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

What you do not want to happen is for the contractor to come back and accuse you or your friend of "conversion" of property on their property.  Conversion means that there was property left for some purpose or by some relationship that was established previously and that you have unlawfully "converted" the ownership of the property by selling it or giving it away in some way.  Was the work completed on your friend's property?  If not, I would be afraid that the contractor would plead that there was continuous work done and the tools remained for that purpose.  I would send a letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, indicating that you are turning the equipment over to the Sheriff or the Marshall of the county to legally dispose of it if not retrieved in 30 days. Then go and see the Sheriff and ask him or her what to do legally.  Maybe having it towed off your land and placed in a tow person's storage.  It really depends on what your state law will allow.  Seek some advice locally.  Good luck.


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