A bailment is a temporary transfer of property to another for a limited time and for a specific purpose. The transfer of property in a bailment is only in regards to possession, not ownership. The bailor is the owner of the transferred property. The bailee holds the transferred property. The property is held in trust for the benefit of the bailor. A bailment is completely different from a bail bond.

How Long is the Property to be Held?

There are two types of terms: indefinite and fixed.

An indefinite term means that there was never an agreement on how long the property was to remain in the possession of the bailee. Thus, even if the property is left in the possession of the bailee for a long period of time, the property is not considered abandoned unless the bailee gives notice to the owner.

A fixed term means that an owner has deposited their property with the bailee for a set period of time and if the owner does not come back to reclaim the property within a set period of time, the property is considered abandoned.

Can Someone be Forced to Hold Property?

Bailments can be voluntary or involuntary. In a voluntary bailment, another person accepts responsibility for the items. In an involuntary bailment, someone ends up with the goods without ever intending to accept responsibility. Involuntary bailments most commonly occur with dry cleaners and auto repair shops. In these situations, the holder of the items must take care of the property for a reasonable time period.  

Can the Bailee be Paid for Holding Property?

If a bailee expects to be paid that means he or she is holding the property for consideration. If the bailee is holding property for consideration, he or she will be held to a higher degree of care and responsibility as compared to someone who does it for free.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If your property is being held by a bailee and you are unable to reclaim your property you should contact a lawyer immediately.