Good Morning...I have a question regarding landlord rights. I had a tenant that left due to violations in our agreement. He owes me approx. 2,000.00 back rent. I have a shed where his tools are stored. He broke into the shed to steal the things that are being held in lieu of rent until I am paid or I sell the things. My question is...Do I call the police and make a theft report? Is it considered theft at this point. I served him with papers 5 months ago stating if he entered the property I would press charges for breaking and entering and trespassing.
I have not done anything yet. I found the theft this morning.
Hi and thanks for your question. Can you please tell me what state this is in?
Thanks. Let me check the CA statutes for you.
Thanks for waiting.
I would not advise pressing charges because in California, under no circumstances may the Landlord hold the tenant's property hostage by demanding that the tenant pay past due rent or other charges.
This could trigger a lawsuit by the tenant for conversion (stealing) his or her property.
If the tenant vacated without being locked out by the Sheriff and left property behind, a Notice of Belief of Abandonment must be mailed to the tenant's last known address and the tenant is given 18 days to claim the property. During this time period, the Landlord is obligated to store the property in a safe place, either in the rental unit or a storage facility. If the tenant shows up to claim the property, reasonable storage charges can be demanded, but it is usually not worth the Landlord's trouble to pursue the matter since most Landlords simply want to end all dealings with the tenant.
So, although you are technically able by law to press these charges, if the former tenant comes to court and tells the judge you have been holding his property then it is quite possible that the tables could be turned on you and you might end up with a judgment against you. You probably don't want to risk that happening, so you might not want to pursue this action.
If I stored the items would he have to pay the storage charges to me before he was able to collect his things?
Another interesting fact...he has no contact with me and is avoiding me.
Yes, you have the right to charge reasonable storage fees, but only for the 18 day period (since he was supposed to have been given notice that he has 18 days to claim the property).
After the 18 days, if he has not retrieved the property, and if the property appears to have a fair market value of less than $300, then it can be disposed of by the Landlord after the 18 day period. If the property is worth more than $300, the Landlord must auction the property through a public sale. The notice of the time, date and place of the auction must be published in a newspaper of general circulation once per week for two consecutive weeks. The auction can then take place five days or more after the last notice was published.
I suppose if you decided to hold it longer than the 18 days and then he came to claim it, you could charge for the extra days - however, you would not be able to charge for a long period of time if you had not given the notice during that time.
Now to add one more loop to the situation...we had a monogamous agreement contract with one another. Which one would take priority?
In that contract it says if any acts of cheating or drug use then all belongings and profits made belong to me.
The tools I am referring to are tools used by both of us and both of ours are mixed in together.
Ah well that changes things.
There would be no priority, rather, it would change the way you frame your claim.
Do not go to court and say you are holding the possessions for back rent.
We both used them for our businesses. I am running a horse rescue that includes remodel and he is running a remodel
Rather, take your other contract and sue him to enforce that contract.
In other words, show the court the agreement that say any cheating or drug use means all belongings go to you.
Then the tools belong to you.
Of course, you have to show that he breached the contract.
Don't even mention in court any sort of tenant issue at all.
What types of proof would the court want?
Anything you can come up with. Was it cheating, drug use, or both?
Anything you have to prove either of these. If you found any evidence of drug use, paraphenalia, etc.; photos, drug tests, testimony of other people....anything that you have to prove he violated the agreement.
Yes, I have some of those. Btw...Does a lie detector test hold in court? That was the one thing he refused to do.
Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't - but the court will likely not force him to submit to one.
If you have proof of breach of the agreement, then the tools were rightfully yours, and so it would be considered theft at that point and you could call the police and make a report.
You could probably also have him served with trespass.
Wow very good to know.
You really know your business. Thanks for all your help.
You are very welcome. I wish you the best of luck, and please feel free to let me know if you need any further information.
18 years of experience helping clients with landlord tenant issues.
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