Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@.

Search
  • FIRST POST
    • MSE Sarah
    • By MSE Sarah 12th Feb 19, 4:28 PM
    • 183Posts
    • 80Thanks
    MSE Sarah
    Money Moral Dilemma: Should we return valuables to their owner?
    • #1
    • 12th Feb 19, 4:28 PM
    Money Moral Dilemma: Should we return valuables to their owner? 12th Feb 19 at 4:28 PM
    This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks...

    We found a box of valuables in our loft when clearing it out, which belong to a previous owner - but not the person we bought our home from, so they may be difficult to return. Are we obliged to attempt to do so?

    Unfortunately the MSE team can't always answer money moral dilemma questions as contributions are often emailed in or suggested in person. They are intended to be enjoyed as a point of debate and discussed at face value.

    If you havenít already, join the forum to reply.

    Got a money moral dilemma of your own? Suggest an MMD.
    This Forum tip was included in MoneySavingExpert.com's weekly email!

    Follow MSE on other Social Media:
    MSE Facebook, MSE Twitter, MSE Deals Facebook, MSE Deals Twitter, Forum Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest
    Join the MSE Forum
    Get the Free MoneySavingExpert Money Tips E-mail
    Report inappropriate posts: click the report button
    Point out a rate/product change
    Flag a news story: news@moneysavingexpert.com
Page 1
    • dj1471
    • By dj1471 12th Feb 19, 4:48 PM
    • 1,613 Posts
    • 1,126 Thanks
    dj1471
    • #2
    • 12th Feb 19, 4:48 PM
    • #2
    • 12th Feb 19, 4:48 PM
    Not much of a dilemma and this is the wrong forum, should be in the House Buying, Renting and Selling board.

    Legally it's yours. If you can't track the original owner then I'd say it's morally yours too.
    • SuperPikachu
    • By SuperPikachu 12th Feb 19, 5:24 PM
    • 264 Posts
    • 478 Thanks
    SuperPikachu
    • #3
    • 12th Feb 19, 5:24 PM
    • #3
    • 12th Feb 19, 5:24 PM
    Depends on the valuables. If it is seriously expensive stuff then you should be making considerably more effort to find out who owned it.
    "Wild Pikachu appeared!"
    • paddy's mum
    • By paddy's mum 12th Feb 19, 6:21 PM
    • 3,690 Posts
    • 13,299 Thanks
    paddy's mum
    • #4
    • 12th Feb 19, 6:21 PM
    • #4
    • 12th Feb 19, 6:21 PM
    It's a non-dilemma. They already know who owned it in order to be able to state "a previous owner".

    'Valuables' are we talking bars of gold bullion or a couple of Royal Worcester dishes?

    The value dictates, in terms of being realistic, how much effort should be made, surely?
    • pickledonionspaceraider
    • By pickledonionspaceraider 12th Feb 19, 7:21 PM
    • 1,418 Posts
    • 3,710 Thanks
    pickledonionspaceraider
    • #5
    • 12th Feb 19, 7:21 PM
    • #5
    • 12th Feb 19, 7:21 PM
    How would you even track them down - it isn't the person who you brought the house from.

    It could be a previous owner from way back. It might not even be the owner from 3 owners ago, and they may well claim the goods anyway - unless the goods have a name tag on them, it may well be five owners ago. It could be ill gotten gains. You just dont know

    I think if they were bothered they would have made contact way before you brought the property

    I wouldn't bother to be honest. I refuse to be held responsible for other adults irresponsibility and stupidity.

    And good for you, all we found in our house, was a skip full of absolute rubbish in the loft, paperwork from 40 years ago, old reeking clothes, broken furniture... it was like they had used the loft as a bin the filthbags and left it there cos they could not be bothered to clear it
    Last edited by pickledonionspaceraider; 12-02-2019 at 7:23 PM.
    • firebubble
    • By firebubble 12th Feb 19, 10:03 PM
    • 85 Posts
    • 809 Thanks
    firebubble
    • #6
    • 12th Feb 19, 10:03 PM
    • #6
    • 12th Feb 19, 10:03 PM
    Depends on the items...junk which just happens to have gained in value from having been dumped in the loft is one thing, but what is clearly someone's sentimental treasure is another, particularly if you're able to identify them from the box or contents.

    I think it also depends on how you know it's not the previous owners - presumably you've already asked them, and they've said no, so how long ago was the previous owner before them there - if it's a long time, then it probably wouldn't be worth making the effort.

    If it was a couple of years, and the previous owners are identifiable, then I think you should contact them. At the very least, even if the trail goes cold, you'll know you did all you could and so can now keep the stuff with a clear conscience.
    • Dean000000
    • By Dean000000 12th Feb 19, 10:07 PM
    • 600 Posts
    • 602 Thanks
    Dean000000
    • #7
    • 12th Feb 19, 10:07 PM
    • #7
    • 12th Feb 19, 10:07 PM
    Are you lot high?

    Keep and pawn that sht real quick...
    • kazt2006
    • By kazt2006 13th Feb 19, 5:56 AM
    • 43 Posts
    • 48 Thanks
    kazt2006
    • #8
    • 13th Feb 19, 5:56 AM
    • #8
    • 13th Feb 19, 5:56 AM
    Usually anything in the house becomes the property of the new owner. The pre-sale inventory identifies everything included or not included within the sale. My current place was a mortgage repossession and it was sold as seen inc. a range cooked that lasted 2.5 years, a boiler that was less than 3 years old as we have since met the local plumber who installed it.

    In this case I would say as it was missed from the legal documents it doesn’t belong to anyone and therefore finders keepers! If there are old photos etc, you might want to retain these just in case though!
    • Qievo
    • By Qievo 13th Feb 19, 7:07 AM
    • 2 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Qievo
    • #9
    • 13th Feb 19, 7:07 AM
    • #9
    • 13th Feb 19, 7:07 AM
    Although legally you own the items, there's obviously a sense that the items are of a value which is pulling at your conscience.

    As per earlier posts, if it is just some bits and Bob's they're probably not being missed. If it's more substantial, I'd feel compelled to find the owner and return.

    Interesting that the last previous owner didn't discover the items in their time there.
    • engineer amy
    • By engineer amy 13th Feb 19, 7:46 AM
    • 680 Posts
    • 1,210 Thanks
    engineer amy

    Interesting that the last previous owner didn't discover the items in their time there.
    Originally posted by Qievo

    I couldn't tell you what is in my loft - ive never been up there in the 10 years I have lived in my house. Theres certainly none of my stuff up there. Mainly because im scared of ladders and scared of falling through the ceiling!


    So there could be priceless heirlooms up there and I would never know.


    I *think* its pretty empty though, as I had an electrician pulling cables through the loft and he didn't have to move anything to get access.



    In response to the OP - if its sentimental type stuff and there is a name you can use, an hour googling the name and address might yield some more current info. I wouldn't spend any more time than that. Otherwise - finders keepers!
    Mortgage = £113,495 (May 2009) £68601.81 Jan 2019
    Halifax CC 0% = £0!!! Car Loan = £0!!!!!
    PAYDBX16 #106 = 12377/12377 (100%)
    • colinlyne
    • By colinlyne 13th Feb 19, 7:58 AM
    • 9 Posts
    • 17 Thanks
    colinlyne
    Theft
    This is larceny by finding, or in simple terms, theft!
    • PasturesNew
    • By PasturesNew 13th Feb 19, 8:01 AM
    • 66,147 Posts
    • 388,483 Thanks
    PasturesNew
    Legally they're yours.

    But, it would depend on what it was and how valuable .... e.g. if it were a box of personal jewellery and some letters ... I'd want the owners to have it back ... if it were just a Rembrandt ... I'd flog that, it's mine
    • -taff
    • By -taff 13th Feb 19, 8:09 AM
    • 9,886 Posts
    • 12,738 Thanks
    -taff
    Are we obliged to attempt to do so?
    Originally posted by MSE Sarah

    No.




    Lengthen message blah blah
    • charlotte1994
    • By charlotte1994 13th Feb 19, 8:10 AM
    • 670 Posts
    • 1,361 Thanks
    charlotte1994
    It depends what it is, it could be family heirlooms, but if they have been left there they can't be worth that much to whoever owned them previously. Since it's not the last owner I would say you could keep them
    • maisie cat
    • By maisie cat 13th Feb 19, 8:13 AM
    • 681 Posts
    • 845 Thanks
    maisie cat
    I would try to return it personally, at least having tried you can rest easy.
    When we moved from our last house we left one of the car keys on the kitchen worktop. The new owner threw it in the bin, didn't even take it to the estate agent. It cost us £150 to reprogramme the car and replace the key. I couldn't understand why he just didn't drop it off, but apparently it wasn't his problem.
    We found a christening certificate and some old photos in this house and took it around to the old owner. It took us 10 minutes to walk there and it is a nice feeling doing the right thing, or at least attempting to.
    • PasturesNew
    • By PasturesNew 13th Feb 19, 8:14 AM
    • 66,147 Posts
    • 388,483 Thanks
    PasturesNew
    It depends what it is, it could be family heirlooms, but if they have been left there they can't be worth that much to whoever owned them previously. Since it's not the last owner I would say you could keep them
    Originally posted by charlotte1994
    They might not have known. e.g. many a mother of a dead WW1 soldier, or widow of one, might've at some point boxed it all up and put it in the attic... and nobody knew about the collection. Ditto if somebody'd inherited stuff from their parents/aunts etc... put them up there "for safe keeping" if they were going away on holiday and didn't want them burgled.... then time passed and nobody knew of their existence. Even if you knew that at some time in the past you remembered the items and they were no longer around .... and you weren't the one doing the house clearance at the time, it might all just be a vague memory in your head.
    • PasturesNew
    • By PasturesNew 13th Feb 19, 8:15 AM
    • 66,147 Posts
    • 388,483 Thanks
    PasturesNew
    We found a christening certificate and some old photos in this house and took it around to the old owner. It took us 10 minutes to walk there and it is a nice feeling doing the right thing, or at least attempting to.
    Originally posted by maisie cat
    I found a collection of about 20 birthday cards/similar in a house, possibly "every card the husband had sent to the wife since they met" - I drove round to the new address and posted them through the letterbox.
    • archie1411
    • By archie1411 13th Feb 19, 8:18 AM
    • 8 Posts
    • 8 Thanks
    archie1411
    Yes! - otherwise it's classed as theft by finding
    • PasturesNew
    • By PasturesNew 13th Feb 19, 8:21 AM
    • 66,147 Posts
    • 388,483 Thanks
    PasturesNew
    Yes! - otherwise it's classed as theft by finding
    Originally posted by archie1411
    That's if you find something in the street. Ownership of items in a house transaction are a different rule.

    You often see things in the papers where people've found valuable stuff in a house and sold it at auction for great sums. Also, on Homes under the Hammer, when somebody buys a house and it's full of furniture they say "that's yours now, any plans to dispose of it"
    • happyinflorida
    • By happyinflorida 13th Feb 19, 8:48 AM
    • 761 Posts
    • 644 Thanks
    happyinflorida
    Of course you should do your best to return them to the person they originally belonged to.

    Some keepsakes or valuables are put in lofts to try to prevent them from being stolen during a burglary but may either be forgotten about or an elderly/disabled person may not be able to get up into the loft to retrieve them. It doesn't mean they don't care about them, quite often people forget about things, so to get them back would be wonderful for them.

    Please do all you can to return them to their rightful owners or their family if they've died since moving - some people would be over the moon to get something their grandmother/grandfather once owned.
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

1,403Posts Today

5,282Users online

Martin's Twitter
  • Have a great Easter, or a chag sameach to those like me attending Passover seder tomorrow. I?m taking all of next? https://t.co/qrAFTIpqWl

  • RT @rowlyc1980: A whopping 18 days off work for only 9 days leave! I?ll have a bit of that please......thanks @MartinSLewis for your crafty?

  • RT @dinokyp: That feeling when you realise that you have 18 days of work and only used 9 days of your annual leave! Thanks @MartinSLewis h?

  • Follow Martin