How long before possession becomes ownership? United Kingdom?

My friends came over tonight and left their stuff here to intentionally cause me the inconvenience of having to return it to them. How long do I have to be in possession of it before it becomes my property with legal rights to it in the United Kingdom? This is mainly to scare them into picking it up, rather than me selling it when the time is up. They brought the items willingly into my home and willingly and intentionally left them here, so it's not theft.


My friends know that I know it's theirs. It's Warhammer 40,000 models and we actually had a game with them. If they leave items in my possession willingly then it's not theft. We ordered a pizza when they were here between us so I can prove they were here at the time.

4 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Best Answer

    They are the legal ownership of your friends, you can not take possesion of them regardless of how long you have them.

  • Joe
    Lv 5
    8 years ago

    Ignore the theft answers, that's obviously nonsense as you have not dishonestly appropriated the goods.

    The answer to your question is not actually all that simple, but you would have a shot at claiming title to the goods after six years. Given they only left them there tonight you've got quite a long wait. That six years isn't even certain, there's an argument that they only become yours six years after they try to get them back, which is of course what you want them to do anyway.

    A better argument would be to send them a message along the lines of - "You've left your items here. I never agreed to you doing that, and I know that it's been done to intentionally annoy me. Unless you pick them up within the next seven days, I'l simply leave them on my front doorstep on [date] [time] for you to pick up. I shall not be responsible if you do not, and they are stolen or damaged."

    I'm not going to go into the whole law of bailment, but suffice to say you would indeed have no responsibility if you followed through on the warning and put the stuff out in the street for a local scallywag to make off with.

  • SimonC
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    There is no set time limit.

    Without going into the technical details of theft, just because they intended to leave the property in your house does not mean that you would not be committing theft if you disposed of that property. To avoid criminal liability for theft the property would have to be deemed "abandoned" (so it does not belong to another). As you know who the owner is and where to contact them, you can only treat their property as abandoned if you ask them and they confirm that it is. I assume that they would not do this.

    So if you do anything with this property you would potentially be liable for theft, subject to a jury deciding your actions were dishonest - and disposing of property that you know belongs to someone else is, by definition, dishonest.

    This property is trespassing on your property, so you have a right to be compensated for any loss caused by that trespass - eg for the cost of storage. At some point, when the accumulated storage costs approach the value of the goods it might be reasonable to sell them and use the proceeds to pay yourself what is owed. But how long that is depends on what a reasonable storage charge might be and what the value of this property is.

    Btw, another answer mentions bailments. These are not relevant because you did not intend to receive possession of this property - it was dumped on you. Also, you and your mates clearly need to grow up.

  • 8 years ago

    It is theft unless you report the items as left there by your city council. Do you have evidence of them saying they left it there on purpose? What makes you think they won't just turn around and lie to the authorities that you stole it? Then you can be shagging with some giant dude in prison mate. Report and give it to the police as lost and wait and play dumb that you didn't know it was theirs. If they ask tell them that you found it and thought it wasn't theirs and to pick it up from the cops if not you get it.

    Source(s): life
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