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Can I dispose of my ex's belongings?

Discussion in 'Small Claims & Municipal Court' started by StorageWars, May 9, 2019.

  1. StorageWars

    StorageWars Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    I kicked my toxic ex out at the beginning of March, but he left most of his belongings at my apartment. I never told him I would store them, but I knew he was couch surfing so I figured I would give him some time to figure things out. We had limited contact through March and I made it clear that if he wanted to grab his stuff we would need to set up a time so I could arrange for someone to be at the apartment because I don't feel comfortable being around him and don't want to see him. He never arranged for a time and I didn't hear from him in April.

    I ended up getting a storage unit at the end of April and moved all of his stuff to the unit. I texted him to let him know that his stuff is in storage, gave him all the information to access the storage unit, told him I paid for a month and he had 30 days to pick up his things, by May 29th. He initially thanked me, but a week later when I reminded him of the date he is now threatening to sue me if I dispose of his belongings after the 30 days.

    He says we had a verbal agreement that I would hold his stuff until he got on his feet, but that never happened. We ended on bad terms and I would have never agreed to hold on to his things indefinitely. Can he sue me? Am I responsible for his belongings?
     
  2. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Yes he can sue, but that doesn't mean he would prevail, or even follow through. You could counter for the cost of storage.
    Yes, you can dispose of his property, but you could be held liable if not done correctly (it is a civil dispute, not a criminal one).

    Check out this simple guide- you are essentially the landlord and he is the tenant.
    Handling a Tenant's Abandoned Property in California

    Make sure any notice you gave complied with all the required information. The link to the templates mentioned on that page is broken but you can rely Google them.

    With the info you have provided it seems you have done everything correctly so far and could proceed with disposal, but I would give a final notice that includes does of the relevant law so he knows you aren't fooling around.
     
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  3. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    I agree with you in general, except the OP has not complied with the law by texting notice. The OP should review the actual requirements for notice (starting at California Code, Civil Code - CIV § 1980 | FindLaw and continuing through section 1991) and issue a new notice that fully complies with the requirements. Yes, the OP might be on the hook for another month's storage fees in order to do this correctly. While she might be able to recover this from the ex, she needs to give consideration to the fact that it's probably a small price to pay to get this guy out of her life.

    The OP should be aware that if the guy doesn't pick up the belongings and doesn't pay the storage bill, then she may find herself liable for those costs until the items are removed. It could be that it's better for the OP to retrieve those items and hold them at her place until the required notice period has expired. Of course, she could attempt to recover the reasonable cost of storage from the OP, but that doesn't change the fact that she's on the hook for it as far as the storage facility is concerned.
     
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  4. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Are you planning on paying the storage fee due on or about 29 May?

    If you don't, the storage facility will begin dunning you, perhaps harassing you for payment.

    Things can get more contentious and painful for you after 30 or so days.

    If I were you, I'd pay the fee due on 29 May, otherwise this could end up costing you more money than one month's storage fees.

    Your other option is to cancel the usage of the facility in accordance with the contract in place when you rented the unit.

    I'd also advise the facility as to when you will no longer need the unit.

    Here's why:

    People and companies renting out self-storage units are governed under a different body of law from residential and commercial landlords. The law governing self-storage rental space is known as the “California Self-Service Storage Facility Act” and is found in California’s Business and Professions Code Section 21700 et seq.

    A “self-storage facility” is defined as real property that is to be used for renting storage space to an occupant who has the right to access the property for the purpose of storing and removing property, but not including a garage or other storage space in a private residence. A self-storage facility cannot be used for residential purposes.

    https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/storage-unit-laws-and-lien-sales-in-california


    Under the terms of the California Self-Service Storage Facility Act, when rent remains unpaid for 14 consecutive days, the owner may terminate the occupant’s right to use the storage space by sending a notice of termination.

    If the rent is not paid within the required time period (at least 14 days after the mailing of the termination notice), the owner may deny the occupant access to the space, enter the space and remove any property found therein.

    The owner receives a lien in favor of the property and the property may be sold to satisfy the lien.

    To enforce the lien, SUM-140 is the mandatory summons form that must be used in California.
     
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  5. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Had the OP made herself aware of the law in March, she could have been rid of the stuff by now.
     
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  6. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    The bigger, more informed lesson is NEVER cohabitate with someone to whom you are NOT married, or allow ANYONE to reside in your home.

    YOUR home is not a Hilton Hotel.

    A hotel can cause the removal of a guest by simply saying, "Get out".

    If the person balks, the police can be called and cause the person's removal instantly.

    One should protect his or her home and treat it with the respect YOU deserve.

    Unlike Hilton, Marriott, or any other hotel facility; a homeowner must take a bum to court petitioning the court to cause the bum's removal.

    Eviction is much slower than a mere, "get out".

    Don't allow bums, beggars, ne'er do wells to enter your life, especially your home.

    It is YOUR life, and you must master it well.
     
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  7. StorageWars

    StorageWars Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Yes! Learned it the hard way but never again!
     
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  8. StorageWars

    StorageWars Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I paid for the first month myself because I no longer wanted it my apartment, and I don't expect him to pay for that month. I've given him the option of paying for the following month but he can't afford it. I have no problem paying for another month, I just don't want to pay for it indefinitely. I'd prefer to get rid of everything May 29th. I will not bring the stuff back to my apartment, but if I need to I will pay another month if I legally can't get rid of it on May 29th.

    The other problem is I can't send him a certified letter because he is technically homeless (still couch surfing to my knowledge) and would never give me an address. Text and email are my only options at this point.
     
  9. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Read the link I posted. Email is a valid method of notification, while texting is not. If you do things wrong, you can be held liable by the court (including attorney fees for the other party). Also, you WILL continue to be responsible for the storage costs and the repercussions if you fail to pay.
     
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  10. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    I hate to throw a monkey wrench into the works but was he a co-signer/co-tenant on the lease or rental agreement for the apartment?

    If he was, then he wasn't your tenant and the whole landlord-tenant business might not apply to disposal of his property.
     
  11. StorageWars

    StorageWars Law Topic Starter New Member

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    He was never on the rental agreement, and he never paid rent or any bills. The only thing he did was pay for food 50% of the time.
     
  12. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    HINT, when addressing legal matters, never volunteer MORE information than required to answer a question.

    Fact is, he can't prove he paid a dime towards food.

    Unless you weigh as much as a baby elephant, feeding an adult human requires very little money.
     

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