Legal Question in Real Estate Law in Washington

Refund to previous owner

We purchased our home 4 years ago. Last week a refund check for the security system arrived at our address, but made out to the previous owner. Am I entitled to the refund, or does it need to be returned? I called the security company, and they said they couldn't give me more information about what the refund was for because the previous owner's name was on the contract.

Asked on 4/25/04, 12:49 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Amir John Showrai The Pacific Law Firm, PLLC
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Re: Refund to previous owner

You pose an interesting question. Under Washington law, normally if someone sends you something in the mail, it is yours to keep. However, because you have a check made out to someone specific, the general rule probably does not apply to you. In fact, because it has someone else's name on it, that evinces the sender's intent of whom the funds belong to.

Worse yet, you have to be careful, because I am going to assume that the prior owner's name was on the envelope. If that is so, and you opened their mail, that is a violation of federal law. You cannot open mail addressed to other people. You are required to return it to the sender.

I would do just that, or forward it to the original owner if you know where they can be found. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Good luck.

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4/26/04, 7:51 pm

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