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Abandoned Property Worth Over $300 Must Be Sold at Auction

October 08, 2000|From Project Sentinel

Question: My former tenant left behind several pieces of expensive furniture when he moved. I estimate the value of the property to be about $2,000. As required, I sent him a completed "abandonment" notice about three months ago, but he has not responded. Since the furniture's value is well over $300, I know it can't be thrown away. What do I do now?

Answer: Since more than 18 days have passed since you sent the Notice of Right to Reclaim Abandoned Property and the property value is more than $300, you must now follow California Civil Code Section 1988. This code requires that the property be sold at public auction.

You begin by placing an ad in the legal section of your daily local newspaper. The newspaper must have paid subscribers; free weekly throwaway papers do not qualify.

The abandoned property must be described in the same way as on the Notice of Right to Reclaim Abandoned Property you sent him. The length of time the ad must run is governed by Government Code Section 6066, which requires the notice to be published once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper published once a week, with at least five days intervening between the respective publication dates, not counting the publication dates themselves. The total publication period for the ad begins upon the first day of publication and terminates at the end of the 14th day, including the first day.

It would be a good idea to take pictures of the furniture before it is sold. After the sale, you can withhold expenses incurred for the sale as well as for storage and advertising costs and any money awarded you for unpaid rent. Any remaining money must be deposited with your county within 30 days. Contact either your county's controller or treasurer office for more information.

The tenant has one year to claim the funds before they are deposited into the county's general fund.

Supervising Play Areas Within Legal Bounds

Q: The complex I live in has a small area set aside as a children's play area. Sometimes older children come into the area and cause problems for the younger kids. Can I request that the owner prohibit the older children from coming into this area?

A: The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 prohibits housing providers from applying policies that restrict families from certain units or areas of a complex and prohibits policies that are overly restrictive to families with children. If these older children are residents of the complex, the owner may not restrict the play area to them. Such restrictions on complex amenities (i.e., pools, gyms) are covered by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 under the category of "familial status discrimination."

Furthermore, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing may investigate any allegation of overly restrictive rules that single out families with children for differential treatment.

According to 42 U.S.C. Section 36704(b) of the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, "It shall be unlawful to discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provisions of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin." California Government Code Section 12955(a) largely mirrors the federal law as it applies to familial status.

However, landlords may regulate the disruptive behavior of any tenant (adult or child) in this play area or anywhere else in the complex. You may want to talk with the landlord and the other parents to discuss setting up guidelines and supervision for all the children who use this play area. If this is not successful, contact your local mediation program for assistance.

Hefty Dog Is a Bone of Contention

Q: I own a duplex and allow dogs up to a maximum weight limit. When my tenant moved in five years ago, she had a puppy, and I was assured that it would not exceed the established weight limit. Well, this has not turned out to be the case, and the dog is now about 10 pounds over the limit.

The tenant loves this dog, so I am not planning to ask the tenant to get rid of the dog or to move, but I am concerned about damage to my property due to the dog being larger than allowed. Any suggestions?

A: Congratulations on understanding the emotional relationship between your tenant and her dog. You have several options available to address your concerns about damage to your property.

First of all, since your tenant has been there for five years, you must be pleased with her tenancy and how she has maintained the property so far. This is a good sign indicating that, even though the dog is now larger, you probably may not experience any damage caused by the dog. In fact, the dog may have been at its current weight for some time and not have caused any damage.

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