2013 brought about changes in the way abandoned personal property is handled after an eviction and lock-out in California. Prior to 2013, if a previous tenant left behind personal property after being evicted, the property owner was allowed to charge reasonable storage charges if the prior tenant wanted to reclaim the property. (Property owners are required to keep personal property belonging to previous tenants for a certain number of days after a lock out takes place.) A new law that took effect in January 2013 changes this rule.
As of January 2013, a residential landlord must release personal property to a tenant without requiring the tenant to pay storage costs if the property remained on the premises and the tenant reclaims the abandoned property within 2 days of vacating the property.
This is another blow, although a relatively small one, to landlords in California.
As a side note, even though property owners are able to charge a reasonable storage fee for previous tenants to reclaim personal property (after the first two days now, as of January 2013), I usually tell clients that trying to collect a storage fee is usually more hassle than it’s worth. If a previous tenant does not reclaim the abandoned property within a certain number of days, then it will be left to the property owner to dispose of, or in some cases, auction the items left behind by the previous tenant. The time and expense of disposing or auctioning the abandoned personal property usually outweighs the potential income that could be recovered from a previous tenant by demanding that they pay reasonable storage charges. If the previous tenant contacts the property owner to reclaim the abandoned property, it’s usually better to scheduled an appointment with the previous tenant and allow them to reclaim the property, without charging the storage fee.