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Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33218
Experience:  15 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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WE closed our café 3 years and a man purchased the equipment

Customer Question

WE closed our café 3 years and a man purchased the equipment for $3000 cash telling us that he would be back to pick it up and returned once within the first 6 months to retrieve a coffee maker. since that time we have had no contact with him nor did we have any phone number or address for the man. Now 3 years later he nonchalantly contacts us stating that he wants to come pick up his stuff after we have someone else interested. we never heard from him and are wondering what OUR rights are since we have been storing the equipment in our garage.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 5 months ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply,but rest assured, I am working on your question.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Thank you. This man had a stand on a local market and sold his equipment and left town without even contacting us with his intentions. we only found out about his leaving after the fact and thus had no way of contacting him.
Expert:  Barrister replied 5 months ago.
Ok, from a purely legal aren't going to like this, so please don't "shoot the messenger". This is the part of the job that I don't a customer bad news...When the person bought the equipment and left it with you, you became a "bailee" and he is the "bailor" under a voluntary bailment. A voluntary bailment is when one party, the bailor, leaves personal property in the possession of the bailee with permission or consent. The bailor can return and take possession of the property at any time before the bailee terminates the bailment and the property is considered abandoned. A bailee can terminate a voluntary bailment by giving notice to the bailor that they need to come get the property or it will be considered abandoned and disposed of..So the problem here is that since you never formally terminated the bailment, and didn't force him to take the property with him when he bought it, then you have remained the legal bailee all this time. .With that said, he is still considered the legal owner of the property and would have the right to reclaim it unless you terminate the bailment..So I would suggest contacting him through some documentable method (text, email, letter, etc.), not verbal, and let him know that he has a week to come get the stuff of you will consider it abandoned and dispose of it. .If he doesn't come get it, then you have properly terminated the bailment and can then dispose of it how you see fit..I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience, even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy... thanksBarrister
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
we had no way of contacting him. how is it our responsibility to contact someone when we do not have and address or phone number? Not to be smart but we cant send a notice without an address to send it to. I still don't accept the fact that the burden is on us when he had ample opportunity to contact us with his intentions or at least provide us with a means of contacting him. He assured us that he would return in the very near future to retrieve the equipment. can we at least charge him rent since it has been occupying our property for three years?!
Expert:  Barrister replied 5 months ago.
I understand your frustration.... Legally you could have published a public notice in the local newspaper stating that you were terminating the bailment and that would have worked...That is the way that "John Does" are legally notified about legal actions... can we at least charge him rent since it has been occupying our property for three years?!.And I hate to add insult to injury...but unless there was some agreement to store the property for a fee, you can't unilaterally impose one...I realize it stinks, and I wish you had asked 3 years ago because you could have had this taken care of then and likely made some extra money on the equipment.....thanksBarrister

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