If Something Is Left On My Property, Is It Mine?

July 13, 2016

The apartment I live in was renovated just before my wife and I moved in. The construction crew left behind some of their equipment, including some extra flooring and cheap lighting fixtures and a large table saw. The flooring and fixtures may come in handy at some point I suppose, but I have no need for a table saw and it’s taking up half of my storage room. I’ve asked my rental company repeatedly to have the contractor come pick it up, but it’s been almost four months and it hasn’t happened. I’m not sure who did the work, so I can’t contact them directly. At this point, I’m pretty sure they’re not coming back for it. Am I safe to sell or give away the saw to clear out space in my storage room?

Let’s acknowledge at the outset that your landlord is total crap. If your rental company people can’t be bothered to remove the massive landlord liability of a table saw—pretty much a portable spinning wheel of death and dismemberment poking through the top like a demon shark fin from Home Depot—I imagine you’ll see even less enthusiasm from them to fix a broken fridge.

But let’s leave the landlord complication for now and address the underlying issue. You moved in and found a table saw that isn’t yours. Welcome to the needlessly complicated world of abandoned and lost property law. As usual, and in song form this time, 🎶 every state does this a little different from all the other states 🎶, particularly because property law is kind of like Bernie Sanders—ancient, quirky, and vague.

Read the rest of the column here at Deadspin.

Illustration by Jim Cooke.

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