Florida Abandoned Property Law: A Comprehensive Guide

Ever wondered what happens to abandoned property in the Sunshine State? Florida abandoned property law is a fascinating subject that touches on everything from lost treasure to unclaimed estates. Whether you’re a property owner, a renter, or simply a curious resident, understanding these laws can be incredibly beneficial. So, let’s dive right in and uncover the ins and outs of Florida abandoned property law!

What is Abandoned Property?

In Florida, abandoned property is defined as any personal property left behind by its owner, who shows no intention of returning to reclaim it. This can include a wide range of items, from vehicles and boats to household goods and even real estate.

Common Types of Abandoned Property

  1. Vehicles: Cars, trucks, and motorcycles left on public or private property.
  2. Boats: Watercraft abandoned in marinas or docked illegally.
  3. Personal Items: Furniture, electronics, and other personal belongings left in rental units.
  4. Real Estate: Homes and land that are vacated and neglected by the owner.

Legal Framework for Abandoned Property in Florida

Florida’s laws regarding abandoned property are designed to balance the rights of property owners with those of individuals who might lay claim to the abandoned items. Here’s a look at the key statutes and regulations:

Florida Statutes Chapter 705

Chapter 705 of the Florida Statutes is the primary legal framework governing abandoned property. It outlines the procedures for handling various types of abandoned property, including:

  • Public Property: Items found on public land must be reported to the local law enforcement agency.
  • Private Property: Property left on private land must be reported to the local authorities if the owner cannot be located.
  • Unclaimed Property: Items held by a business or individual that remain unclaimed for a specified period must be turned over to the state.

Florida’s Unclaimed Property Act

The Unclaimed Property Act requires businesses to report and remit unclaimed property to the state’s Department of Financial Services. This includes financial assets like bank accounts, insurance policies, and safe deposit boxes.

Process for Handling Abandoned Property

Handling abandoned property in Florida involves several steps to ensure compliance with state laws and protect the rights of all parties involved.

Identifying Abandoned Property

The first step is to determine whether the property is indeed abandoned. Key indicators include:

  • Lack of Activity: No signs of use or maintenance over a prolonged period.
  • Overdue Payments: Unpaid rent, utilities, or storage fees.
  • Owner’s Absence: Inability to contact the owner despite reasonable efforts.

Notification and Reporting

Once property is deemed abandoned, the next step is to notify the appropriate authorities:

  • Public Property: Report to local law enforcement within 10 days.
  • Private Property: Notify the property owner or manager, who must then report to authorities if the owner cannot be found.

Disposal or Sale of Abandoned Property

If the property remains unclaimed, it can be disposed of or sold according to state guidelines:

  • Public Auction: Many items, especially valuable ones, are sold at public auctions.
  • Charitable Donations: Items of lesser value may be donated to charitable organizations.
  • Destruction: Items with no value or that pose a hazard may be destroyed.

Special Considerations for Landlords and Tenants

Landlords in Florida often face the challenge of dealing with abandoned property left by former tenants. The law provides specific guidelines to ensure fair treatment for both parties.

Steps for Landlords

  1. Inventory and Storage: Take an inventory of the abandoned items and store them safely.
  2. Notice to Tenant: Send a written notice to the tenant’s last known address, giving them a deadline to claim the property.
  3. Disposal or Sale: If the tenant does not claim the property, the landlord can dispose of or sell it after the deadline.

Tenant’s Rights

Tenants also have rights when it comes to their abandoned property:

  • Claim Period: Tenants typically have at least 10 days to reclaim their belongings.
  • Fair Compensation: If the landlord sells the property, the tenant is entitled to any proceeds after deducting storage and disposal costs.

FAQs about Florida Abandoned Property Law

Q: What happens to unclaimed property in Florida? A: Unclaimed property, such as bank accounts or insurance policies, is turned over to the Florida Department of Financial Services, which attempts to locate the rightful owner.

Q: Can I claim abandoned property I find in Florida? A: While you can report found property to local authorities, claiming it requires following legal procedures. Simply taking possession without reporting can be considered theft.

Q: How long does a landlord have to keep abandoned property in Florida? A: Landlords must store abandoned property for at least 10 days after notifying the tenant. After this period, they can dispose of or sell the items.

Q: What should I do if I find abandoned property on my land? A: Report the property to local law enforcement or relevant authorities to ensure proper handling according to Florida law.


Understanding Florida abandoned property law is crucial for property owners, renters, and finders alike. By following the legal procedures outlined in the statutes, you can ensure that abandoned property is handled fairly and legally. Whether dealing with an abandoned car, boat, or personal items, knowing your rights and responsibilities will help you navigate these situations with confidence.

Authoritative Links

  • Florida Department of Financial Services: https://www.myfloridacfo.com
  • Florida Statutes Chapter 705: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0705/0705.html
  • Florida’s Unclaimed Property Act: https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2021/717

By understanding and adhering to Florida’s abandoned property laws, you can help ensure that abandoned items are managed responsibly and ethically, protecting the interests of all parties involved.