Personal property left after closing

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Personal property left after closing

I recently purchased vacant land with a very simple agreement to purchase. There was nothing stated in regards to fixed and personal property in the agreement. The previous owner left old farm equipment and a tractor probably valued around $8,000. I repaired it, and he trespassed as he owns land adjacent to mine and noticed the tractor now was running. He is asking for it back and I believe legally it should be mine.

There is no title for this piece of equipment.

Asked on August 28, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The fact that personal property is left behind at closing does NOT, by itself, give you ownership over it. There are mechanisms for getting ownership over abandoned property, but they involve sending written notice that you will consider the property abandoned if it is not retrieved  (said notice[s] sent some way you can prove delivery) and providing the other person a reasonable time (typically several weeks) to make arrangments to retrieve his goods. If you failed to provide written notice that unless the property were retrieved, you would consider it abandoned, the tractor, etc. still belongs to the seller.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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