How Can I Get Rid of Abandoned Property in Texas?

Full Question:

How do I legally dispose of property left in my shed for 4 and a half years? Have spoken with owner repeatedly and he won't come for it. There's also a van and small utility trailer. He said it would only be for 3 months.
08/23/2011   |   Category: Abandoned Property   |   State: Texas   |   #25392

Answer:

In order to dispose of abandoned property, wriiten notice must be served on the property owner so he has an opportunity to respond to the claim. Such notices typically require the owner to pay amounts due by a stated date and advised that the property may be sold if payment isn't received by such date.

A tenant is presumed to have abandoned the premises if goods, equipment, or other property, in an amount substantial enough to indicate a probable intent to abandon the premises, is being or has been removed from the premises and the removal is not within the normal course of the
tenant's business.

The following is a portion of a TX statute:

(e) A landlord may remove and store any property of a tenant that
remains on premises that are abandoned. In addition to the landlord's
other rights, the landlord may dispose of the stored property if the
tenant does not claim the property within 60 days after the date the
property is stored. The landlord shall deliver by certified mail to the
tenant at the tenant's last known address a notice stating that the
landlord may dispose of the tenant's property if the tenant does not
claim the property within 60 days after the date the property is stored.

When a person who is not a landlord agrees to hold property for another, a bailment is created. When the person holding the property, called the bailee, is not being compensated, it is called a gratutous bailment and the bailee must use reasonable care to protect the property.

There are different types of bailments- "bailments for hire" in which the custodian (bailee) is paid, "constructive bailment" when the circumstances create an obligation upon the custodian to protect the goods, and "gratuitous bailment" in which there is no payment, but the bailee is still responsible. There is a lower standard of care imposed upon the bailee in a gratuitous bailment, and the parties may contract to hold the bailee free from liability in any bailment. As the law of bailments establishes a lower standard of care for the bailee in a gratuitous bailment agreement, such an agreement or receipt should indicate explicitly that the bailee is acting without compensation. When a bailment is for the exclusive benefit of the bailee, the bailee owes a duty of extraordinary care. If the bailment is for the mutual benefit of the bailee and bailor, the bailee owes a duty of ordinary care. A gratuitous bailee must use only slight care and is liable only for gross negligence. To create a bailment, the alleged bailee must have actual physical control with the intent to possess. Physical control and intent to possess will be interpreted according to the expectations of the parties. If a court thinks that liability would be unexpected or unfair, it can usually find that the defendant did not have “physical control” or “intent to possess.” For example, courts are more likely to find a bailment of a car exists in a garage with an attendant than in a park and lock garage.

The following are TX statutes:

§ 72.101 PROP. PROP. Personal Property Presumed
Abandoned

(a) Except as provided by this section and Sections 72.1015, 72.1016,
and 72.102, personal property is presumed abandoned if, for longer than
three years:

(1) the existence and location of the owner of the property is unknown
to the holder of the property; and

(2) according to the knowledge and records of the holder of the
property, a claim to the property has not been asserted or an act of
ownership of the property has not been exercised.

(b)
(1) The three-year period leading to a presumption of abandonment of
stock or another intangible ownership interest in a business
association, the existence of which is evidenced by records available to
the association, commences on the first date that either a sum payable as
a result of the ownership interest is unclaimed by the owner or a
communication to the owner is returned undelivered by the United States
Postal Service.

(2) The running of the three-year period of abandonment ceases
immediately on the exercise of an act of ownership interest or sum
payable or a communication with the association as evidenced by a
memorandum or other record on file with the association or its agents.

(3) At the time an ownership is presumed abandoned under this section,
any sum then held for interest or owing to the owner as a result of the
interest and not previously presumed abandoned is presumed abandoned.

(4) Any stock or other intangible ownership interest enrolled in a plan
that provides for the automatic reinvestment of dividends,
distributions, or other sums payable as a result of the ownership
interest is subject to the presumption of abandonment as provided by this
section.

(c) Property distributable in the course of a demutualization or
related reorganization of an insurance company is presumed abandoned on
the first anniversary of the date the property becomes distributable if,
at the time of the first distribution, the last known address of the
owner according to the records of the holder of the property is known to
be incorrect or the distribution or statements related to the
distribution are returned by the post office as undeliverable and the
owner has not:

(1) communicated in writing with the holder of the property or the
holder's agent regarding the interest; or

(2) otherwise communicated with the holder regarding the interest as
evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file with the holder or its
agents.

(d) Property distributable in the course of a demutualization or
related reorganization of an insurance company that is not subject to
Subsection (c) is presumed abandoned as otherwise provided by this
section.

§ 72.103 PROP. PROP. Preservation of Property

Notwithstanding any other provision of this title except a provision of
this section or Section 72.1016 relating to a money order or a stored
value card, a holder of abandoned property shall preserve the property
and may not at any time, by any procedure, including a deduction for
service, maintenance, or other charge, transfer or convert to the profits
or assets of the holder or otherwise reduce the value of the property.
For purposes of this section, value is determined as of the date of the
last transaction or contact concerning the property, except that in the
case of a money order, value is determined as of the date the property is
presumed abandoned under Section 72.102(c). If a holder imposes service,
maintenance, or other charges on a money order prior to the time of
presumed abandonment, such charges may not exceed the amount of 50 cents
per month for each month the money order remains uncashed prior to the
month in which the money order is presumed abandoned.

§ 683.011 TRANSP. Authority to Take Abandoned Motor Vehicle into Custody

(a) A law enforcement agency may take into custody an abandoned motor
vehicle, watercraft, or outboard motor found on public or private
property.

(b) A law enforcement agency may use agency personnel, equipment, and
facilities or contract for other personnel, equipment, and facilities to
remove, preserve, store, send notice regarding, and dispose of an
abandoned motor vehicle, watercraft, or outboard motor taken into custody
by the agency under this subchapter.