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Does landlord have right to go through your belongings after lockout?

Los Angeles, CA |

Other than for reasons of packing and storing, does a landlord have the authority to go through your personal belongings after a lockout due to eviction, wherein tenant has 18 days to collect their belongings pursuant to CCP 1165? To me it seems like an invasion of privacy for landlord just to go through your belongings if it is within the 18 day period, or if landlord is not packing and storing your items. Citations would be helpful. Thanks.

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

No, not before the expiration of the notice which the landlord provided. However, it would be difficult to quantify what damages to which the tenant would be able to recover in such instance.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.

Kevin Lewis King

Kevin Lewis King

Posted

It appears you may be mistaken, per the California Civil Code citations in my answer below.

Posted

Your citation to Cal. Code of Civil Procedure section 1165 is erroneous as it does not address this issue...

Far from being an invasion of privacy, a California LL is actually required by CA Civil Code section 1983(b) (concerning notices of abandoned property to ex-tenants) to sort through your belongings to the extent necessary to "describe the property in a manner reasonably adequate to permit the owner of the property to identify it." How does a LL describe your property without going through it?

The LL then has the option of leaving the property where it is or removing and storing it. In either event, he or she can collect reasonable storage fees from the ex-tenant pursuant to CA Civil Code section 1987 and is protected from liability for damage to the property except for deliberate or negligent acts pursuant to section 1986.

Asker

Posted

Yes but the codes you cite refer to abandoned property. Whereas, Civil Code 1965 gives tenant 18 days to notify landlord that they want to collect their belongings, and at least 3 days after notification, for tenant to actually collect their belongings - right? So that landlord has to wait at least 18 days after tenant has left or been locked out before assuming any property left behind is abandoned, unless landlord has evidence to the contrary - right?

Posted

After you are locked out, the landlord is required to store your things if the items are worth more than $300. If they are worth less, and you didn't take them out before the lockout, they are usually required to serve you with a notice of belief of abandonment, store the items or leave them there.

They would probably inventory the items and take photos of them, to protect themselves against any claims from you the tenant. If the landlord states on the notice that they believe the items are worth less than $300, and you don't come and get them and pay reasonable fees, including storage, etc, then the landlord may do whatever the landlord wants. Otherwise they have to store your things for a reasonable period of time. It is up to a court to determine how long that is.

This is general legal advice intended for informational purposes only and does not create and attorney/client relationship. If you wish further advice, please contact an attorney of your own choosing or you may contact me for further advice and make other arrangements including retaining my services.

Asker

Posted

Yes but the codes you cite refer to abandoned property. Whereas, Civil Code 1965 gives tenant 18 days to notify landlord that they want to collect their belongings, and at least 3 days after notification, for tenant to actually collect their belongings - right? So that landlord has to wait at least 18 days after tenant has left or been locked out before assuming any property left behind is abandoned, unless landlord has evidence to the contrary - right?

Douglas Whitney Weitzman

Douglas Whitney Weitzman

Posted

I think everyone is referring to the same code. They have to give you notice. You have 15 - 18 days to inform the landlord that you intend to come get your things, or the landlord can do what he wants <$300, or store them and charge you.