This article was posted on Tuesday, Aug 01, 2023


Below are questions asked by rental property owners regarding California property management, followed by answers provided by the law firm of Simone and Blevins.

Q: I have not heard from my residential tenant in over a month, have not received rent and  I think he abandoned the property. I posted a proper 24-hour notice to see if the property  was abandoned, but he left behind a TV, a sofa, clothing and other miscellaneous personal  items. The tenant had the utilities shut off so I still think the property is abandoned. Do I  need to serve a notice before taking possession of the property? 

A: Yes, you should serve a Notice of Belief of Abandonment pursuant to California Civil Code §  1951.3. This notice is used when the tenant has not given you back possession of the property,  you reasonably believe the property is abandoned and the tenant has not paid rent for at least 14  days. After you serve the Notice of Belief of Abandonment, if the tenant does not claim a right to  the property within 15 days (if personally served) or 18 days (if mailed), then you may take back  possession of the property. At the same time you serve the Notice of Belief of Abandonment, you  should also serve a notice of Right to Reclaim Abandoned Personal Property, listing the TV, sofa,  and other miscellaneous personal items so that you may follow the procedure to dispose of these  items if your tenant does not come back to claim them.

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Q: My residential tenant is moving out. He called me and said he left the keys to the unit in the mailbox and that I could take back possession of the property. He is not returning my calls to pick up his stuff. What should I do? 

A: You must serve a Notice of Right to Reclaim Abandoned Personal Property pursuant to  California Civil Code § 1984, itemizing the personal property left by the tenant and store the items for at least 15 days (if personally served) or 18 days (if mailed). After the notice expires, you must  determine the value of the property, which dictates the method of disposal. If the property is worth  less than $700, you can dispose of it however you choose. However, if the property is valued at over $700, you must sell the property at a public sale after publishing notice of the sale. You should consult with an attorney prior to selling abandoned property at a public sale to comply with the notice and sale requirements.


Q: My tenant moved out and she left the apartment a mess. There are a lot of used clothes  and furniture left behind. I served a Notice of Right to Reclaim Abandoned Personal  Property and it has already expired. How do I determine the value of the abandoned items? 

A: California law does not provide a lot of guidance regarding how to determine the value of the  abandoned personal property. A good rule of thumb is to use the estimated price of the item if sold at goodwill or a garage sale. Make sure you photograph all the items so you have proof of the condition of the personal property. 


Q: My tenant vacated and left a lot of personal property. I want to get my unit rented to a  new tenant as soon as possible. Can I move my tenant’s personal property that he left behind while I wait for the Notice of Right to Reclaim Abandoned Personal Property to expire?

A: Yes, you may move the tenant’s personal property to a dry and secure location, such as a storage  unit, garage, or room on the property. You may also move the personal property into an off-site storage area. If these options are unavailable to you, then you may simply leave the property inside the unit and keep the unit secured until you dispose of the property.


Q: How can I dispose of abandoned property worth less than $700 after I wait the  appropriate 15 or 18 day time periods? 

A: If the total value of the abandoned property is less than $700, you may keep, donate, throw  away, or sell the personal property. You should also take an inventory and/or pictures of the items  that your tenant left at the premises to keep in your tenant file. 


Q: I posted a Notice of Right to Reclaim Abandoned Personal Property and my tenant  contacted me to pick up the items. Can I charge storage fees for storing the items? 

A: Yes, you can charge reasonable storage fees unless the tenant claims the items within two days  after the tenant vacated. The storage fees are usually a prorated amount of the rent or daily cost of  a storage unit in the area. 


Q: I evicted my tenant and the sheriff posted a writ of possession on the property. Do I need  to post a Notice of Right to Reclaim Abandoned Personal Property? 

A: No, you do not have to post a Notice of Right to Reclaim Abandoned Personal Property.  However, you must follow the same procedure and store the property for 15 days before disposing  of the property or selling it at public auction depending on whether the property is valued at more or less than $700.


[Editor’s Note:  AOA members may download the Notice of Belief of Abandonment forms for FREE at]


The law firm of Simone & Blevins has been doing evictions for over 28 years.  The office is open Monday – Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Tel: 619-235-6180,

website: or email [email protected].