Anyone who loses something, such as a wallet or phone, remains the owner for up to five years after the loss. An “honest searcher” for something missing on private land is also obligated to report this to the municipality. This writes Het Nieuwsblad.
It’s about the new law on found objects. Until recently, municipalities still had to operate according to the rules of 1975. But since September 1, a new regulation has been applied where the owner of the lost thing has more rights: from now on he can still claim the property up to five years after a loss. Under the previous law, that was only six months. Before returning the object, you must be able to prove that you are the rightful owner.
Anyone who finds something on private land must report it to the municipality within seven days. In the past, this only applied if something was found in the public domain. “If you find a smartphone in your yard, for example, you are now also obligated to report it,” Nathalie Debast of the Association of Flemish Towns and Towns (VVSG) told Het Neusblad.
According to Debast, municipalities are obligated to keep a record of lost items. However, returning items to the rightful owner is a major challenge. Many police districts use social media for this.
Storage is also more difficult under the new law, so people can claim ownership for longer. Until recently, after six months, municipalities could use, donate, sell or destroy unclaimed items themselves. Now you will need much more storage space. Or one has to risk selling things before the five years are up. But the rightful owner can still claim the proceeds from the sale.
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