Who has ownership of equipment left on property when sold?

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Who has ownership of equipment left on property when sold?

I know I will probably have to go see a lawyer, but I was hoping for some general info first. 5years ago my brother bought a house and land from a relative. This relative had a lot of old equipment still on the property. He never moved it off though and it was there when my brother bought the place. That relative has passed away. The remaining relatives are now trying to claim the equipment he had left on my brother’s property. Do they have any legal right to it? None of this equipment has any titles. And he left it there for 5 years.

Asked on August 24, 2011 Pennsylvania

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The laws in all states in this country are that when one purchases real property legal title to the property passes to the new owner when the deed is recorded and the new owner owns all on the property he now holds title to unless the purchase agreement excludes certain designated items.

The equipment that was on the property when your brother took legal title to it five years ago is your brother's equipment. It is still there and the relative who sold the property who owned the equipment never moved it off or made any subsequent claims to it after the sale. The deceased relative's conduct is evidence that he gave up the equipment when he sold the property.

Sentiment is that the relatives who are no claiming ownership to this equipment have no legal right to it. It is your brother's to do as he seems fit. If your brother does not want this equipment he could offer to sell it to the relatives who want it. If they do not want to buy it and want it for free, your brother should consider giving these relatives the equipment in exchange for their payment to him of a fair monthly rental for such over the past five years if he does not want the items.

As your question mentions in its facts, most equipment such as tractors, disks, harrows, and trailers do not come with registered title. Ownership to them is generally transferred per a "hand shake" deal and sometimes through a written bill of sale.

Good luck.


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