How long until something left on your property legally becomes yours?

UPDATED: Jul 20, 2010

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How long until something left on your property legally becomes yours?

If someone leaves an item abandoned on your property, a certain amount of time must pass until it legally becomes yours. How long is that time?

Asked on July 20, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Florida


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

It never really "legally" becomes yours unless a Judge awards it to you in some sort of proceeding or you go through the necessary steps to locate and return the item to the rightful owner.  What is the underlying situation here:  Landlord Tenant?  Did you allow someone to store the items on your property (that is a bailment)?  If you do something with the items as against the ownership interest of the person to whom it belongs then it is considered "conversion" of the property and you could get in to a heap of trouble.  Abandoned property has to be labeled as such by a court. Seek help with all of this.  Self help will only result is your being sued when the rightful owner returns for the property.  Good luck.

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