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What can a landlord do with a tenant’s abandoned property?

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2022 | Landlord/Tenant Concerns |

Many California landlords have had to deal with a tenant’s abandoned property after they move out. A landlord often has to clean and repair damage along with deciding whether the property left behind is trash or valuable. There are guidelines a landlord needs to follow when it comes to dealing with abandoned property.

California has specific laws for when and how a landlord can get rid of a tenant’s property. There are two things a tenant needs to consider.

  1. The tenant’s tenancy must be terminated. This can happen in a number of ways. If the tenant was evicted, moves out because of an eviction notice, or the lease agreement has ended, and the tenant has moved out of the rental unit by that date.
  2. Has the tenant actually moved out? If the tenancy has been terminated and the tenant has moved out a landlord can consider any property left behind to be abandoned property.

What can a landlord do with abandoned property?

  1. A landlord needs to inventory the abandoned property and store in a secure location.
  2. The landlord needs to notify the tenant of the abandoned property. The notice must contain:
  • Description of abandoned property
  • Location where the tenant can claim the property
  • The time frame the tenant needs to claim the property by
  • A statement that reasonable storage costs must be paid before property is returned
  • Statement that property that is not claimed in time will be disposed of or sold.

If the tenant does not pick up the property it needs to be sold at a public auction with notice in the newspaper at least 5 days prior to the event. The money from the sale can be used for storage costs but the proceeds need to be turned over to the county where the tenant has a year to claim it. If a landlord believes the property is worth less than $700 then they can dispose of it or keep it for their own use.

A legal professional who is skilled in landlord and tenant laws in California can help a landlord understand their duty and rights and make sure they follow the law.