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selling items held for someone else

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Rabbi David Sperling

Tishrei 8, 5776
Question
If someone asks me to store something for free for 30 days, can I stipulate that if not removed in 30 days the property will be sold? Can I keep the money? Do I need to give it to that person? I would probably donate it - is that acceptable? Thank you, Ken
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. It is very kind of you to offer to store things for free. You are under no obligation to do so, and it is a lovely act of chesed (a good deed). A person is allowed to stipulate any monetary conditions they wish before entering into such an arrangement. Not only is it permissible, but, in my personal opinion, a good idea. Otherwise it often happens that the 30 days pass, and you are left without knowing what to do with the things left in your care. By stipulating that after 30 days (or whatever time frame you choose) the items will become yours, you remove all doubt and legal questions as to the status of the goods if the owner does not take care of them after the month is up. You should stipulate that after the time is up the items will become your personal property, do to with as you see fit. Then, you can choose to do whatever you like with them – perhaps call the owner and give him another few days time to collect them, or donate them to charity, or, if you like keep them for yourself, or sell them for profit. Any stipulation made that was clearly agreed upon by both parties before you took in the items is binding. Blessings.
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