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Abandoned Property

Under established laws, abandonment means "to give up or to relinquish property, or contact with family members, without the notion of reclaiming family rights, selling property, or giving it away."

There are specific rules and regulations concerning acts of abandonment.

  • When a parent leaves his or her family, if contact is made on a regular basis, and/or some sort of support is rendered regularly, it may not be considered an abandonment. Under rules of law, if no contact is made for a specific period of time, it is considered an abandonment.
  • If a home or an apartment is left before the lease is up, the landlord may consider the property abandoned and then take possession.
  • If personal property is left at a location and the owner does not return to retrieve it, the property may be taken by someone else, although whoever takes it must go to certain lengths to make sure it is abandoned.

Abandoned Personal Property

If personal property is left on a vacant lot, in a field, in the trash, or thrown to the curb, it may or may not be considered abandoned. Legally, the owner of the property must have discarded it there on purpose, with no intentions of reclaiming it.

If property is lawfully abandoned, anyone may take possession of it, but care must be taken to make sure that the original owner does not intend to reclaim it.

Before claiming the property:

  • You should make sure that the property was not stolen and left there by the thief. If the property was stolen, the owner did not voluntarily give up rights to it and you have no rights to it.
  • If the property was lost, and not abandoned, the owner still has ownership rights and may be looking for the property.

Other steps to take:

  • Try to find the owner by checking with neighbors or nearby property owners.
  • Take the item to the nearest police station. If it remains unclaimed for a specified period of time, usually 90 days, you may be able to make a lawful claim to the property. Before leaving it with the police, remember to ask for a receipt.

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