What is a 'Bailee'

A bailee is an individual who temporarily gains possession, but not ownership, of a good or other property under a bailment. The bailee is entrusted with the possession of the good or property by another individual known as the bailor. This relationship is based on a contractual agreement (a bailment) between the bailor and the bailee, which specifies the terms and purpose of the change in ownership.


While the goods are in the bailee's possession, the bailor is still the rightful owner. However, the bailee is responsible for their safekeeping and eventual return. Typically, the bailee is not entitled to use the goods or property. A bailee can serve as the overseer of an investment portfolio for a specified time period, or can be appointed to manage a rental property in the owner's absence. The bailee ensures the assets are kept safe until the owner of those assets is able to resume management.

Daily Bailee

This term is seldom heard let alone understood, but you could be interacting with a bailee on a daily basis. The worker at a dry cleaning shop becomes a bailee when you drop off your suit to be cleaned. The owner of a jewelry repair shop is a bailee after you give her a gold chain to be fixed. The garage attendant in the city acts as a bailee after you hand him the keys to your car as you head off to a restaurant. And the coat check attendant at the restaurant becomes a bailee for the jacket that you entrust to his care. The short-term transaction between the bailee and you as bailor is governed by a contract, often as simple as the reverse side of a dry cleaning tag or receipt, for example. "Reasonable care" must be exercised by the bailee at all times.

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