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Abandoned Property

This guide provides laws, books and other resources on the topic of real and personal property which is lost or abandoned, including through adverse possession.

General Information

About This Guide

People often wonder what to do with property if the owner appears to have abandoned it. This guide will assist you in identifying relevant statutes and other materials to research this topic. Do note that sometimes it is unclear whether the property is truly abandoned. In these cases, you will need to consult an attorney for a definitive answer.

Unclaimed Personal Property

Texas law describes when certain forms of personal property are "presumed abandoned." "Personal property" can include things like bank accounts, gift cards, utility deposits, paychecks, safe deposit boxes, and more.

Once the personal property is considered abandoned under the law, it must be reported to the Texas Comptroller. Texans can search for unclaimed property in their name through the Texas Comptroller's website and submit a claim.

Other institutions like local governments or school districts may have similar procedures in place for claiming abandoned property, so you may want to check your city or county's website for their procedures.

Texas Law

Who to Contact

Adverse Possession

Adverse possession is a process in which a person makes a legal claim to real property that did not belong to them originally. It is sometimes referred to as "squatters' rights." Certain circumstances and time limits must be met for an adverse possession claim. 

Texas Law

Understanding the Law

Abandoned Vehicles

Abandoned motor vehicles are governed by Chapter 683 of the Texas Transportation Code. According to Texas Transportation Code Section 683.002, a motor vehicle is considered to be abandoned if the following apply:

  1. is inoperable, is more than five years old, and has been left unattended on public property for more than 48 hours;
  2. has remained illegally on public property for more than 48 hours;
  3. has remained on private property without the consent of the owner or person in charge of the property for more than 48 hours;
  4. has been left unattended on the right-of-way of a designated county, state, or federal highway for more than 48 hours;
  5. has been left unattended for more than 24 hours on the right-of-way of a turnpike project constructed and maintained by the Texas Turnpike Authority division of the Texas Department of Transportation or a controlled-access highway; or
  6. is considered an abandoned motor vehicle under Section 644.153(r).

Abandoned vehicles may be seized and auctioned off by law enforcement if found on public or private property, according to Chapter 683, Subchapter B of the Texas Transportation Code. Procedures for motor vehicles abandoned in a storage facility can be found in Chapter 683, Subchapter C of the Texas Transportation Code.

Texas Law

Understanding the Law

E-Books Available from the State Law Library

If you have a library account in good standing, you can check out an OverDrive e-book title or access our remote databases. Don't have a library account? Texas residents can register for a library account from home! Learn more about how to register from home.

Below are some e-book titles that may help you with your research.