Guns found in house by new homeowner.

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Theohazard, May 1, 2018.

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  1. JTHunter

    JTHunter Member

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    An interesting discussion. Here's a twist for you to ponder.
    A friend had a small house that he rented out to an older single man. The man passed away in the home and, after the authorities were done, the remainder of his relatives were allowed in to retrieve whatever they wanted. After they were done, he and I went through the house as he had made arrangements with the local fire department for them to use it for "practice". In our walk-through, we discovered a single-shot 20 gauge and a Marlin 60 .22LR rifle. We checked with the relatives and they had no interest in either gun so my friend kept the shotty and let me have the Marlin for my help in mowing the grass at this house. We both had FOID cards already (req. in Illinois) so no problems there.
    You never know WHAT you will find. :D
     
  2. ilbob

    ilbob Member

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    It is very common for the relatives to just divvy up personal property amongst themselves, especially with small estates. I think there is some limit to how much of an estate there is before probate is required. It seems to me it is not very much.

    In Illinois you cannot transfer any firearm to someone without a background check. If the "relatives" did not go through that background check process before allowing you to have the firearms they may well have been in violation of the law. I think in a legalistic sense you had custody of the estate's property and the relatives should had given you some kind of form stating they were the legal heirs.
     
  3. JTHunter

    JTHunter Member

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    This happened about 10-12 years ago. This was before put that stipulation on "F2F" sales/transfers. IIRC, that didn't get put into law until 2016.
     
  4. JB357MAG

    JB357MAG Member

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    I bought a house in Indiana last June and the sales contract specifically
    stated all items in or on the property becomes the property of the buyer
    at closing. I payed a lot of attention to this because I didn't want to deal
    with the seller coming back later and saying I want this or that back.

    I dont know how a gun would play into this.

    Jimmy
     
  5. PCFlorida
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    PCFlorida Contributing Member

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    I appreciate Frank's posts. I am not a lawyer and I do not wish to be a lawyer as I make a great income in my chosen field of IT, however I always read Frank's posts and I usually learn something.
     
  6. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator Staff Member

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    It is of course possible to write the contract that way. But it's not necessarily standard. This standard form Indiana agreement for example includes only existing permanent improvements and fixtures attached to the property but allows including other items of personal property.

    It's important to understand the difference between personal property attached to the real property and moveable personal property. So things like built-in appliances, water purifiers, fireplace inserts, etc., which are personal property but which are attached to the real property are generally considered part of the real property.

    What will matter is the way the contract is written, and the bottom line is that moveable personal property found in the purchased house does not automatically belong to the buyer. It only belongs to the buyer if it was specified in the purchase contract as included.
     
  7. BSA1

    BSA1 member

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    Let me see if I understand your position correctly.

    Unattached moveable personal property can not be claimed by the new owner of the house.

    The previous owner of the house can claim the property after the sale of the home has been completed.

    You have not answered my question as to how long the previous owner of the house has to reclaim their property. Is it months or even years?

    Since your position is claiming unattached property left behind in a house after the sale is theft then wouldn’t the statute of limitations apply? Not going to research California law but for sake of argument probably 5 years in most States.

    So the new owner of the home is required to save the property until statute of limitations runs out to avoid being charged with a crime.

    It would also logically follow that since the new homeowner has to keep the property he is also required to keep it in the condition it was left in. Failure to do so would make him subject to a civil lawsuit for damages. So the homeowner is required to provide storage space even if requires renting a storage unit to do so.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2018
  8. ilbob

    ilbob Member

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    I think it is not theft but conversion.
     
  9. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator Staff Member

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    Not exactly.

    Since the new owner does not acquire ownership of the unattached, moveable, personal property in the house by buying the house, unless the property is specified as included in the purchase documents, the unattached, moveable, personal property is still owned by the seller of the house. There might, however, be ways in which the new owner of the house can claim ownership; and how that might be done will depend on state law. For example, the laws of a State might provide that if the finder of the lost property takes reasonable steps to find and notify the owner of that property that it's been found, and the owner then fails to claim it after some specified period of time, the finder becomes the owner.

    Can you cite any law requiring a different conclusion? I have cited examples, viz., Georgia law, Kentucky law, and California law, each to the effect that someone who finds lost property doesn't automatically acquire ownership of that property.

    It will depend on state law and what steps the new owner of the house has taken to find and notify the owner of the personal property that it's been found.

    Again, it will depend on state law and what steps the new owner of the house has taken to find and notify the owner of the personal property that it's been found.

    Again, it will depend on state law and what steps the new owner of the house has taken to find and notify the owner of the personal property that it's been found.

    In general the new owner of the home, as a gratuitous bailee, would have only a very limited duty to preserve the personal property he fortuitously finds in his custody. And any possible liability can be limited by promptly taking reasonable steps, consistent with applicable state law, to notify the owner of the personal property that it's been found and will be disposed of if not claimed within some period of time.

    If the personal property left behind is sufficient in size or volume to require any appreciable amount of storage space or renting a storage unity, it should be obvious immediately upon moving in. At that time it should be possible to promptly notify the seller of the house that his property has been found and will need to be removed.
     
  10. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator Staff Member

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    It could be either. Conversion is a tort and is a matter pursued in civil court. Theft is a crime.
     
  11. danez71

    danez71 Member

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    If Frank allows... I'll share some real life experience of 1st hand knowledge of how this plays out with non gun personal property.

    I was a licensed agent for several years in AZ with the largest realestate company in the US. I've take classes given by the designated broker / VP of said company as well far nore than the required continuing ed classes including agency and contract law. Well over 200 transactions. (Also managed over 100 rental units for over 6yrs)

    Assuming it's valuable and not trash...

    Seller leaves stuff behind. All done thru their respective agents (no direct contact), Buyers agent contacts Sellers agent who contacts Seller. If no reply in a couple days... repeat but Buyer gives seller a deadline to remove the stuff; customarily 30 days. After that they get rid of it by tossing, sellling, or donating.

    If it's so much stuff, including trash, the buyer can request the escrow company to with hold funds, if they notify soon enough, to be used to clean it out. Same basic process can and is done when the final walk thru reveals the house wasn't left 'in like conditions'.

    Typically what happens is the buyer deals with it. Since there is no record or proof of what was left behind buyer tosses, gives away, or sells anything that was left.

    That's what happens most of the time in real life.
     
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