Do I own the contents of house after closing?

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Do I own the contents of house after closing?

I just closed on a house yesterday. During our walk-through we noticed the prior owner damaged some wood floor panels from a moisture source. About 5 panels of the wood floor now show buckling. We contacted him and asked that he pay for the damage that occurred after contract but before the walk-through. He respectfully declined to pay anything. Additionally, he left an expensive collection of wine in the wine cooler and some odds and ends around the house. Now he would like to come and collect the wine. Is the wine now mine since I closed?

Asked on May 8, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, the wine is not yours--when you close on a home, it transfers ownership of the home and its land only. It does not have any effect of ownership of personal property, except to the extent such was specifically included as part of the sale (refer to the contract of sale for any inclusions), even if such was left behind. IF the seller abandons said property, then you could keep; but the mere fact that it was left behind does not establish abandonment. In the absence of some indication of abandonment (e.g. an email saying "you can keep the wine"), you must provide the seller  with notice that he left property behind and an opportunity (at least 30 days) to recover it, before you could possibly conclude it has been abandoned.

If the seller damaged the home after the contract but prior to closing, you could sue him for the repair cost; he is supposed to turn the home over to you in the shape it was in when the contract was finalized, as adjusted by any repairs, etc. the seller agreed to, such as after the home inspection.


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