Understanding Abandoned Property Laws in Michigan: A Simple Guide

Confused about abandoned property laws in Michigan? Our guide breaks down everything you need to know in a conversational tone that’s easy to understand. Learn about the legal process, your rights as a property owner, and more.


What is Abandoned Property?
Abandoned property is defined as any real or personal property that has been abandoned by its owner. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Real estate (e.g., homes, land)
  • Vehicles (e.g., cars, trucks)
  • Business assets (e.g., equipment)
    The most common examples of abandoned property are vacant homes and buildings that have been left unoccupied for an extended period of time without any indication that they will be used again in the future; however, there are other types of abandoned property as well.

How Does Property Become Abandoned?

How does property become abandoned?
The length of time before property becomes abandoned depends on the type of property and its value. For example, a car can be considered abandoned after three months if it has not been moved or used for more than 30 days. If you have a large amount of personal belongings in your home, it may take longer for them to be considered abandoned because they are more difficult to move out quickly than other types of assets like vehicles or real estate.

What happens when property is abandoned?
If you believe that someone’s assets have been abandoned and want to claim ownership over them, then there are two options available: 1) contact whoever owns the asset directly (if known) or 2) file an affidavit with Michigan’s treasurer who will then handle all further steps needed in order for you to obtain possession over those assets

Abandonment of Real Property

You may be wondering what exactly constitutes real property. Real property is any land or building that you own, including your home and any other buildings on the land. You also own any fixtures attached to the land, such as fences and sheds. Land owned by a tenant in common with other people is still considered real property under Michigan law because each owner has a distinct interest in it.

The legal process for determining abandonment of real property varies depending on whether there are tenants living in the building or not:

  • If there are no tenants living on site (or if they have abandoned their lease), then there must be clear evidence that they no longer intend to return before you can claim abandonment under Michigan law–for example, if they left behind personal belongings or stopped paying rent after moving out but didn’t give notice that they were leaving permanently

Abandonment of Personal Property

Abandonment of personal property is defined as the voluntary relinquishment of possession, dominion and control over tangible personal property without intent to restore it to a rightful owner or person entitled to its possession.
The legal process for determining abandonment involves determining if one of the following has occurred:

  • The person who owned the property was absent from their residence for an extended period of time without communicating with others about where they were going or when they would return;
  • There was no sign of forced entry into an occupied dwelling; and/or
  • It was reasonable to believe that all occupants had left because there were no signs indicating otherwise (i.e., food in refrigerators).

Unclaimed Property in Michigan

Unclaimed property is a term used to describe items that have been abandoned by their owners. In Michigan, these items include:

  • Property that has been left behind by its owner at a hotel or motel;
  • Money left in safe deposit boxes that have not been accessed for more than five years;
  • Checks written on closed accounts, such as savings accounts or certificates of deposit (CDs); and
  • Stocks and bonds purchased through brokerage firms or mutual fund companies whose owners have not claimed them within seven years.

Abandonment of Animals

Abandonment of animals is a misdemeanor offense under Michigan law. The definition of abandonment includes leaving an animal without providing food, water, shelter or care for more than 24 hours. The legal process for determining whether a person has abandoned an animal involves several steps:

  • If you suspect that someone has abandoned their pet(s), you can file a complaint with your local humane society or police department.
  • A judge will consider all evidence presented by both parties in determining whether there was intent to abandon the pet(s).
  • If they find that there was no intent to abandon the pet(s), then no penalties apply to either party involved in this situation; however if they find otherwise (i.e., that one party did intend for their pets not receive proper care), then penalties may apply depending on how long it took before authorities were notified about what happened (see below).

Rights of Abandoned Property Owners

Abandoned property owners are those who have left their belongings behind and moved on to a new location. If you are an abandoned property owner, you may have rights that allow you to reclaim your belongings from the government or another person who has taken them.

If someone takes possession of your abandoned property without permission, they are committing theft by conversion. This means that they have taken control over something that belongs to someone else without their consent and used it for their own benefit (or sold it). It’s important to note that just because someone finds something does not mean they can take it; if there is no evidence that shows who owns what was found in order for them get away with this crime without consequences!

Duties of Property Owners

As a property owner, you have certain duties to fulfill. These include:

  • Keeping your property in good condition. If you do not maintain your property and it becomes dilapidated, this can be considered abandonment by the courts.
  • Keeping up with taxes and insurance payments on time. Failure to do so can lead to foreclosure or other legal action against your estate after death or incapacitation (if applicable).
  • Reporting changes in ownership within 30 days of transfer of title if applicable; failure to do so may result in fines up to $500 per day for each violation after 60 days has elapsed since transfer took place without notification being made as required by law


In Michigan, abandoned property laws are governed by the state’s Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act (UDUPA). The act defines abandoned property as any personal property that has remained unclaimed for more than three years. It also provides guidelines for how to handle unclaimed funds and other assets that are subject to these laws.

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