In a business and contracts setting, “personal property” refers to items that are moveable, that is, not attached to the land.  Personal property is therefore usually set in contrast to real estate, which is not moveable, as well as non-physical items such as intellectual property or stocks.  Also, personal property usually refers to the sale of goods rather than the sale of services.

This definition of personal property is important in a contracts setting, since there are different contracts requirements for the sale of personal property as opposed to other items.  For instance, the sale of real property usually requires that the contract be written, rather than oral.  However, in many cases, contracts for the sale of personal property can be in either oral or written form.

There are many other types of distinctions between personal property sales contracts and other types of contracts.  Personal property contracts are typically governed by the Uniform Commercial Code (U.C.C.).

What are Personal Property Contracts?

Personal property contracts may be used in order to govern a sale of goods.  While some personal property sales involve items of relatively small value, some personal property sales can involve very valuable items (such as jewelry, keepsakes, etc.).

Regardless of the subject matter of the sale, it’s always good to form a contract, so that the parties have a record for the transaction.  Also, it’s always best to put the contract in writing rather than to rely on an oral agreement.

Personal property sales contracts usually require the satisfaction of some basic elements in order to be considered legally valid.  These can include:

  • Subject matter of the sale- the item of personal property for sale must be identifiable in the contract;
  • Price-  this is the price that the parties agree upon; the contract can also make mention of the item’s fair market value at the time of the sale, though this is not always necessary;
  • Mutual agreement- all parties must consent to the terms of the contract

According to the Statute of Frauds, personal property contracts must be in writing if the item is worth over $500.  This is to help provide both parties with legal protection for sales transactions involving relatively valuable items.

What if a Personal Property Contract is Violated?

Thus, violations of personal property contracts are generally also subject to breach of contract laws.  Contract remedies for personal property contracts usually involve a monetary damages award to reimburse the non-breaching party for their losses.

For example, if the goods are not properly delivered according to the contract terms, the non-breaching party may be able to sue the other party for any losses resulting from the breach.  The amount of the damages award will depend on many different factors, including the type of goods involved, and the losses experienced by the plaintiff.  In some cases, an injunction may be issued to compel the breaching party to perform a certain action (such as delivering the goods).

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Personal Property Contracts?

Personal property contracts can be of great value for both parties, even for smaller transactions.  If you need help with the sale of personal property, you may wish to contact an experienced contracts lawyer for advice.  Your lawyer can help you draft, review, and edit your personal property contract for accuracy.  Or, if you’ve been involved in a dispute over personal property, an experienced attorney can help you file a claim in court to help you obtain the appropriate remedy for your losses.