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What are the differences between lost property and mislaid property?

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Lost property is when property was inadvertently left in a place where the true owner can no longer find it.
Mislaid property is when property was intentionally put in a particular place, but the true owner then forgets where he left it.

For both lost and mislaid property, the true owner retains actual ownership of the property for a reasonable time after the property was lost or mislaid. The finder of lost or mislaid property must retain the property for a reasonable amount of time, and must make reasonable efforts to locate the true owner. In many jurisdictions the length of time and the actions required may be defined by local statute or ordinance.

If the true owner cannot be found, the rights to lost property go to the person who found the property. The rights to mislaid property go to the owner of the location where the mislaid property was found.

The reason for the difference is that the law wants to maximize the chance of returning the item to the true owner. The rights to mislaid property stay with the property owner because it is more likely that the owner of mislaid property will return to the location where it was mislaid.

Example 1: A wallet is found on the ground outside a restaurant. It is unlikely the wallet was intentionally placed on the ground. Therefore the wallet is lost, and the rights to the wallet will transfer to the finder, assuming the finder makes reasonable efforts to locate the true owner.

Example 2: A wallet is found on a table inside a restaurant. It is likely that the owner placed the wallet on the table, and then forgot to take it with him. Therefore the wallet is mislaid. The rights to the wallet will transfer to the owner of the restaurant, assuming the owner makes reasonable efforts to locate the true owner.
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