If you’ve won an eviction lawsuit in California, you may feel like tossing the tenant’s belongings out into the street. But California law sets out specific procedures for dealing with a tenant’s property after an eviction. For more information on dealing with a tenant’s abandoned property, see Handling a Tenant’s Abandoned Property in California.
Yes, but you can’t get rid of them right away. You need to make an inventory of the tenant’s property and then store the belongings in a safe and secure location (see Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 1986).
The tenant has at least 15 days to reclaim the property. The tenant must pay you the storage and moving costs associated with keeping the property before taking the property out of your possession.
An important point to remember, though, is that if the tenant wants to claim the property within two days of being evicted and you did not remove the property from the rental unit during that time, then the tenant can take the property without paying you any additional costs (see Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 1987).
Yes. You must send the tenant notice before disposing of or selling any of the tenant’s items. The notice must be in writing and should include the following information:
California provides you with a template to use when sending the tenant this notice (see Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 1984).
You can either mail this notice to the tenant’s last known address or personally deliver it to the tenant. If you mail the notice, then the tenant will have 18 days from the day the notice is mailed to claim the property. If the you deliver the notice to the tenant in person, then the tenant will have 15 days to claim the property (see Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 1983).
If you decide to sell the tenant’s property, then you can first use the proceeds of the sale to pay for the costs of storing and moving the property and the costs of the sale itself. Any extra money must be given to the treasury of the county. The tenant will have one year to claim the money from the county treasury after the sale (see Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 1988).
A qualified lawyer can help you find and understand any rules that apply to your situation. It’s particularly wise to consult a lawyer if you think the abandoned property may be very valuable or if you have any reason to believe the tenant may cause problems later. A good lawyer can help protect you from claims that you have stolen or destroyed a tenant’s property.