From the utsandiego.com:

Landlords and property owners aren’t allowed to throw away TVs, clothes and other unwanted items tenants routinely leave behind in rental units after they move out.

The steps property owners and managers are required to take under California law are time consuming and costly, which is why the San Diego County Apartment Association, or SDCAA, is co-sponsoring legislation that would revise the law.

AB 2521 – the bill SDCAA is sponsoring with several other local apartment associations – is currently making its way through the State Legislature.  Since its first hearing in May, the measure has progressed with strong, bi-partisan support. The current law, which has gone unchanged for 30 years, is overly prescriptive and maintains a woefully outdated threshold for determining whether the property is valuable or not.

“When residents leave behind their belongings, landlords and property owners have to shoulder the burden of storing, and possibly selling, that property,” said Joe Greenblatt, CEO of Sunrise Management. “This law has long-needed revisions. If the proposed legislation is approved, moving will be easier on residents and landlords.”

Tenants who leave behind large items, such as furniture, often do so because of difficulties associated with moving, according to the Western Center on Law and Poverty. Some tenants do not have adequate transportation to move belongings, or time to make arrangements, so they leave their property behind.

Under the current law, storage fees start accruing as soon as a tenant leaves. These fees discourage some people from coming back to claim their items, especially if the items are not worth very much.

The changes in law proposed by AB 2521, being carried by Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield, are a classic win-win – a benefit to both property owners and tenants.   The bill would make it easier to dispose of unwanted personal property left behind by vacating renters but only after giving them a two-day, cost-free opportunity to reclaim items they wanted to keep.

Currently, the law states that landlords and property owners must store unclaimed personal property valued at $300, and offer it in a public auction rather than throwing it away or keeping the items.

The proposed legislation would increase the value threshold from $300 to $700. A legislative analysis of the bill says:

“Although it is unknown what proportion of former tenants currently leave behind property valued in excess of $300, tenants often do not reclaim abandoned or forgotten property valued at $300 or less,” according to the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles. By raising the threshold value to $700, this bill is expected to significantly reduce the number of instances in which a landlord would be required to hold a public sale if that property goes unclaimed.”

Storage fees are only part of the costs associated with holding an auction. Landlords and property owners also are responsible for hiring an auctioneer, advertising and publicizing notices. These costs routinely are higher than $300 and the law says either the tenants or the property owners have to pick up the tab, regardless of the value of the property.

The current law requires landlords contact previous tenants about their abandoned belongings through a personal delivery service or U.S. mail. AB 2521 brings the abandoned property law into the 21st Century by requiring landlords to contact tenants using email.

Reuniting tenants with their items as soon as possible is best for everyone. And AB 2521 requires that landlords inform tenants about their rights concerning the recovery of abandoned property well before their date of departure.

These few minor proposed adjustments to the law by AB 2521 would lower the costs associated with moving and renting property and improve communication between landlords and residents. More importantly, it would keep more of what people own with them and less of it behind in an empty rental unit.

“AB 2521 is just good, common-sense reform,” said John Modlin, 2012 SDCAA President.  “We are happy to be sponsoring this relatively minor but important bill.”

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