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Ask Jonathan Leventhal Your Own Question
Jonathan Leventhal
Jonathan Leventhal, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 250
Experience:  Member State Bar of California
20036059
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Illegal Auction Hurry I am Desperate

Customer Question

I have had a storage unit since June of 2007and kept up to date in payment via auto-payment by credit card (when my debit card account number changed I was always able to update any fees after being phoned from a service rep.). There was never an issue or late payment fee incurred. This May, my debit account balance briefly went into the red after an unexpected $15k legal fee. When was contacted for a new payment method by the storage company I was in the ICU for blood poisoning from 06/07/10 - 06/11/10. The final message I received said payment was due today by 12:30p but no threats were made. When I called them at 1p today to pay my back-fees, they had already auctioned ALL of my belongings. A certified letter had been sent by and returned to the as I was in the hospital (also address was incorrect). I called at 1p today to settle payment and within 30 minutes they had auctioned all of my belongings.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Jonathan Leventhal replied 8 years ago.

Your only possible remedy would be in small claims court claiming that they violated state law due to improper notification.

 

However, you will need to show that they had the correct address on the original contract or application and they mislabeled the mailed notice.

 

I am sorry to say that your hospilization has no legal effect as a reason not to pay the bill. Your case will hinge upon impropper notice of sale in violation of state and local laws.

 

 

I hoped I have answered your question to your satisfaction.

 

Jonathan Leventhal, Esq.

 

This is information only, NOT legal advice. No Attorney-client relationship has been created. Please consult an Attorney in your state for legal advice regarding this matter.

 

NOTE: Sometimes we receive your question before we receive your additional "optional information". If my answer does not appear to consider your optional information, please let me know as I was probably not able to view it when your question was first received.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I had over $50k of family heirlooms stored, so I so not believe this is a small claims situation.

The storage representative said she sent four letters and (returned) certified mail; I have received none.

I was not advised of potential auction verbally or (successfully) in writing.

It can not be possible that this company can take everything I had stored over three years and conduct/complete an auction within 30 minutes of late payment from a disabled Client.

Could there be an angle you may have overlooked here? (Even cell transcripts will prove that an auction was never addressed.)

Thanks.
Expert:  Jonathan Leventhal replied 8 years ago.

You are correct you are above the limit for small claims court. Yes the company is allowed to auction off the contents of a storage unit that has an unpaid bill.

 

The contract and state law controls what remedies the storage company has when the bill is unpaid.

 

In California they are permitted to auction off the goods. Most auctions only take seconds.

 

You will have to file a case in Superior court. This brings about more complications and costs. You will have a burden of proof that you did not receive proper notice. However, under California law you can supeona their records showing that the notices were returned.

 

You will not be able to recover the goods from the buyer even if you win the case. (I am sorry) The buyer is what the law refers to as a buyer in "good faith". Your only remedy in the event you win will be money.

 

I suggest you contact a local attorney and seek legal advice as to filing a suit in court.

 

 

I hoped I have answered your question to your satisfaction.

 

Jonathan Leventhal, Esq.

 

This is information only, NOT legal advice. No Attorney-client relationship has been created. Please consult an Attorney in your state for legal advice regarding this matter.

 

NOTE: Sometimes we receive your question before we receive your additional "optional information". If my answer does not appear to consider your optional information, please let me know as I was probably not able to view it when your question was first received.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you for the follow-up. After having moved, I am realizing just how much I lost in this unit.

Pls advise on type of lawyer to consult and approximate (ball-park, plu or minus 30% kind of thing) cost of pursuing case.

Kindest regards-

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