Provided by the State of California
Abandonment of Personal Property in the Rental
CONSUMER AFFAIRS and ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION DIVISION
ABANDONED RENTAL UNIT
There are some occasions when a tenant will leave the rental unit without paying rent and without taking belongings. If the rent goes unpaid and you think that the rental has been abandoned, you may enter the unit and proceed to clean up. Inspect the premises to determine whether or not the property has been abandoned:
- Is the refrigerator empty or has most of the food spoiled?
- Has electricity and telephone service been cut off?
- Check the closets and see if there is clothing left behind.
If the landlord determines that the unit has been abandoned, he/she may then take possession and proceed to prepare it for rerenting. The landlord is advised to follow the formal procedure outlined in Civil Code 1951.3 which requires waiting 14 days and then notifying the tenant of the suspected abandonment.
A copy of Notice of Belief of Abandonment is provided below.
For how to deal with property left in a rental unit, please refer to Abandoned Personal Property.
California Civil Code Section 1951.3
(a) Real property shall be deemed abandoned by the lessee, within the meaning of Section 1951.2, and the lease shall terminate if the lessor gives written notice of his belief of abandonment as provided in this section and the lessee fails to give the lessor written notice, prior to the date of termination specified in the lessor's notice, stating that he does not intend to abandon the real property and stating an address at which the lessee may be served by certified mail in any action for unlawful detainer of the real property.
(b) The lessor may give a notice of belief of abandonment to the lessee pursuant to this section only where the rent on the property has been due and unpaid for at least 14 consecutive days and the lessor reasonably believes that the lessee has abandoned the property. The date of termination of the lease shall be specified in the lessor's notice and shall be not less than 15 days after the notice is served personally or, if mailed, not less than 18 days after the notice is deposited in the mail.
(c) The lessor's notice of belief of abandonment shall be personally delivered to the lessee or sent by first-class mail, postage prepaid, to the lessee at his last known address and, if there is reason to believe that the notice sent to that address will not be received by the lessee, also to such other address, if any, known to the lessor where the lessee may reasonably be expected to receive the notice.
(d) The notice of belief of abandonment shall be in substantially the following form:
Download a copy: Notice of Belief of Abandonment
Provided by the Human Rights/Fair Housing Commission - does not constitute legal advice. Rev. 3/2007
Notice of Belief of Abandonment
______________________ (Name of lessee/tenant)
_____________________________________(Address of lessee/tenant)
This notice is given pursuant to Section 1951.3 of the Civil Code concerning the real property leased by you at ________ (state location of the property by address or other sufficient description). The rent on this property has been due and unpaid for 14 consecutive days and the lessor/landlord believes that you have abandoned the property. The real property will be deemed abandoned within the meaning of Section 1951.2 of the Civil Code and your lease will terminate on ________ (here insert a date not less than 15 days after this notice is served personally or, if mailed, not less than 18 days after this notice is deposited in the mail) unless before such date the under- signed receives at the address indicated below a written notice from you stating both of the following:
(1) Your intent not to abandon the real property.
(2) An address at which you may be served by certified mail in any action for unlawful detainer of the real property. You are required to pay the rent due and unpaid on this real property as required by the lease, and your failure to do so can lead to a court proceeding against you.
_______________________ (Signature of lessor/landlord)
_______________________ (Type or print name of lessor/landlord)
_______________________ (Address to which lessee/tenant is to send notice)
(e) The real property shall not be deemed to be abandoned pursuant to this section if the lessee proves any of the following:
(1) At the time the notice of belief of abandonment was given, the rent was not due and unpaid for 14 consecutive days.
(2) At the time the notice of belief of abandonment was given, it was not reasonable for the lessor to believe that the lessee had abandoned the real property. The fact that the lessor knew that the lessee left personal property on the real property does not, of itself, justify a finding that the lessor did not reasonably believe that the lessee had abandoned the real property.
(3) Prior to the date specified in the lessor's notice, the lessee gave written notice to the lessor stating his intent not to abandon the real property and stating an address at which he may be served by certified mail in any action for unlawful detainer of the real property.
(4) During the period commencing 14 days before the time the notice of belief of abandonment was given and ending on the date the lease would have terminated pursuant to the notice, the lessee paid to the lessor all or a portion of the rent due and unpaid on the real property.
(f) Nothing in this section precludes the lessor or the lessee from otherwise proving that the real property has been abandoned by the lessee within the meaning of Section 1951.2.
(g) Nothing in this section precludes the lessor from serving a notice requiring the lessee to pay rent or quit as provided in Sections 1161 and 1162 of the Code of Civil Procedure at any time permitted by those sections, or affects the time and manner of giving any other notice required or permitted by law. The giving of the notice provided by this section does not satisfy the requirements of Sections 1161 and 1162 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
(a) The remedy described in this section is available only if the lease provides for this remedy. In addition to any other type of provision used in a lease to provide for the remedy described in this section, a provision in the lease in substantially the following form satisfies this subdivision: "The lessor has the remedy described in California Civil Code Section 1951.4 (lessor may continue lease in effect after lessee's breach and abandonment and recover rent as it becomes due, if lessee has right to sublet or assign, subject only to reasonable limitations)."
(b) Even though a lessee of real property has breached the lease and abandoned the property, the lease continues in effect for so long as the lessor does not terminate the lessee's right to possession, and the lessor may enforce all the lessor's rights and remedies under the lease, including the right to recover the rent as it becomes due under the lease, if any of the following conditions is satisfied:
(1) The lease permits the lessee, or does not prohibit or otherwise restrict the right of the lessee, to sublet the property, assign the lessee's interest in the lease, or both.
(2) The lease permits the lessee to sublet the property, assign the lessee's interest in the lease, or both, subject to express standards or conditions, provided the standards and conditions are reasonable at the time the lease is executed and the lessor does not require compliance with any standard or condition that has become unreasonable at the time the lessee seeks to sublet or assign. For purposes of this paragraph, an express standard or condition is presumed to be reasonable; this presumption is a presumption affecting the burden of proof.
(3) The lease permits the lessee to sublet the property, assign the lessee's interest in the lease, or both, with the consent of the lessor, and the lease provides that the consent shall not be unreasonably withheld or the lease includes a standard implied by law that consent shall not be unreasonably withheld.
(c) For the purposes of subdivision (b), the following do not constitute a termination of the lessee's right to possession:
(1) Acts of maintenance or preservation or efforts to relet the property.
(2) The appointment of a receiver upon initiative of the lessor to protect the lessor's interest under the lease.
(3) Withholding consent to a subletting or assignment, or terminating a subletting or assignment, if the withholding or termination does not violate the rights of the lessee specified in subdivision (b).