The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Abandoned Property

Reference Number: MTAS-620
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: August 03, 2016

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The Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act of 1978 governs the disposition of unclaimed or abandoned personal property, defined as property in a political subdivision’s possession that is unclaimed for one year. The act does not apply to real property and is most commonly used to reclaim utility deposits.

The state treasurer is responsible for administering the act. Any holder of abandoned property worth $50 or more is required to keep a record of the owner’s name and last known address for 10 years and to attempt to notify the apparent owner if there is an accurate address. T.C.A. §§ 66-29-101, et seq. Cities may request that property in the treasurer’s hands that remains unclaimed be returned to the city under procedures outlined in T.C.A. § 66-29-121(c). T.C.A. § 66-29-129(b) sets a civil penalty equal to 10 percent of the value of the property each year it is not delivered to the treasurer. The penalty cannot exceed 25 percent of the value of the property or $50,000, whichever is less. These penalties do not apply to inadvertent omissions of property having a value of less than 10 percent of total reportable property.

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