Legal Questions? / Legal Answers!

Bailment - When Being Helpful Could Cost You.

"So this was interesting because it is something we all have done. I had a friend call me to say he had given permission for a friend to place a storage shed on his property a year ago. The friend had sold an apt house and he offered to allow her, free of charge, to place the shed full of appliances and furniture in his yard. After a year of not hearing from her, he asked me to send her a letter reminding her that the shed was still on his property and he would like her to find another place to put it. Just a nice guy doing a favor for a friend but he needed his space back in his yard. He brought me over a letter he had received from her telling him she would not remove the shed until she could afford to do so. I then sent a letter to her requesting her to remove the shed or we would consider it abandonment of her property. I was a bit surprised when he brought me over a letter from her Attorney telling me he believed this situation fell under the Bailment statue and not the Abandonment statue. Something new for me to learn and a new case to handle. We've all done this as a favor to a family member or friend. You should know what you have agreed to when you allow it."

  • Bailment - Legal Problems Of Being Nice

Bailment - The temporary placement of control over, or possession of Personal Property by one person, the bailer, into the hands of another, the Bailee, for a designated purpose upon which the parties have agreed.The term bailment is derived from the French bailor, "to deliver." It is generally considered to be a contractual relationship since the bailor and bailee, either expressly or impliedly, bind themselves to act according to particular terms. The bailee receives only control or possession of the property while the bailor retains the ownership interests in it. During the specific period a bailment exists, the bailee's interest in the property is superior to that of all others, including the bailor, unless the bailee violates some term of the agreement. Once the purpose for which the property has been delivered has been accomplished, the property will be returned to the bailor or otherwise disposed of pursuant to the bailor's directions.


There are three types of bailments: (1) for the benefit of the bailor and bailee; (2) for the sole benefit of the bailor; and (3) for the sole benefit of the bailee.

A bailment for the mutual benefit of the parties is created when there is an exchange of performances between the parties. A bailment for the repair of an item is a bailment for mutual benefit when the bailee receives a fee in exchange for his or her work.

A bailor receives the sole benefit from a bailment when a bailee acts gratuitously for example, if a restaurant, a bailee, provides an attended coatroom free of charge to its customers, the bailors. By virtue of the terms of the bailment, the bailee agrees to act without any expectation of compensation.

A bailment is created for the sole benefit of the bailee when both parties agree the property temporarily in the bailee's custody is to be used to his or her own advantage without giving anything to the bailor in return. The loan of a book from a library is a bailment for the sole benefit of the bailee.

"So what does this mean? It means that if you verbally agree to allow a person to hold a vehicle on your property, items in your shed or furniture in your basement you cannot get rid of them! Doesn't matter if years have gone by without as much as a phone call or a visit from the owner. You cannot give it away, sell it or take it to the dump. Not only that but you could also be legally binded to protect the property you allowed to be stored. If any of the property is damaged before it is returned you could be found "grossly negligent or has acted in bad faith in taking care of the property. I couldn't believe this was a law.. At least the Termination is easy If you know where the owner's of the property are, so they can be served"


A bailment is ended when its purpose has been achieved, when the parties agree that it is terminated, or when the bailed property is destroyed. A bailment created for an indefinite period is terminable at will by either party, as long as the other party receives due notice of the intended termination. Once a bailment ends, the bailee must return the property to the bailor or possibly be liable for conversion.

"If a bailment is an at will termination, I suggest a registered letter should be sent to the person explaining the 31 day notice for them to receive their property or forfeit it as being abandoned property."

My Final Thought...

"My friend really wanted to do the right thing here and I sent several letters to her Attorney trying to come up with solutions that would work for everyone involved. We offered to help sell the items or deliver them to another storage facility for free or even help to sell her new shed that was on his property. Giving her all the profits from the sales and keeping nothing for himself. After another year of corresponding back and forth with her Attorney he finally gave up because she just would not compromise. I sent her a new registered letter advising her that her property would be considered abandoned and would be dealt with accordingly if it was not removed within the 31 days. We heard nothing from her and after 60 days my friend, after disposing of the abandon property, got his yard space back."
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