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Thread: CA Lien Law and the Sending of Notices

  1. #1
    StorageDaniel is offline Junior Member
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    Feb 2008

    Default CA Lien Law and the Sending of Notices

    21703. If any part of the rent or other charges due from an occupant remain unpaid for 14 consecutive days, an owner may terminate the right of the occupant to the use of the storage space at a self-service storage facility by sending a notice to the occupant's last known address and to the alternative address specified in subdivision (b) of Section 21712. The notice shall be sent by certified mail, postage prepaid, or by regular first-class mail if the owner obtains a certificate of mailing indicating the date the notice was mailed.
    - California Codes Business and Professions Code

    According to this section it is perfectly legal to send pre-lien and lien sale notices by regular first-class mail as long as we get a certificate of mailing from the post office. I remember reading this awhile ago but sort of forgot about it until recently.

    We are trying to save money some money here and there. We have been sending these notices by certified mail and at $5.32 (postage + certified fee + return receipt) a notice it can add up. Not only that we get the majority of them back so it seems like a waste of money. I guess what I am getting at is has anyone done it this way? Also, we have been sending a return receipt. It doesn't say that we have to send one of those. It seems to be more of a safety net. Bottom line: sending by first-class mail is just the cost of a stamp and $1.10 for a certificate of mailing receipt.

    Any thoughts on this?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Storman's Avatar
    Storman is online now Moderator
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    Feb 2008
    Northern CA


    Daniel- the difference can certainly add up. We don't do that many lien notices month to month, maybe on average I do 2 or 3 a month on our 400 units. From my perspective, I like the urgency and importance a return receipt certified letter shows to the tenants when they have to sign for something. I think it makes them feel like it is more "legal" and threatening to have to sign for a certified letter. Often times I won't hear from the tenant until the certified letter shows up, even after sending multiple regular mail statements.

    For the extra $10 or $15 it costs me, I think it is well worth it. If you were doing many liens a month though I could see where there could be some real savings.

  3. #3
    Autodoc's Avatar
    Autodoc is offline Mod eMeritus
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    Jan 2008
    Jamestown, ND


    We send the Lien via certified - no return receipt.

    This runs us $3.12 -- we send out about 10 to 20 of these a month.

    I think I feel safer doing it this way -- sure we could save $30 to $40 a month, but like Storman said it makes the tenant see the urgency of the letter.
    Jamestown, ND

    All arguments can be resolved ... with high explosives and Humor!!!

  4. #4
    philbill is offline Junior Member
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    Jun 2008
    san diego, ca


    we send out the whole package cert, return reciept.
    we do quite a bit in our chula vista location (5 to 10 a day) but we also
    have 1200 units and are located 5 miles from the mexican border.
    we get alot of people that do not pay until the last minute.
    it costs us alot but the return reciept and certified has saved us in court before.
    i like to have the added security of the post man signing for our certs.

  5. #5
    JAMiAM's Avatar
    JAMiAM is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009


    As always, contact your company's attorney to ensure that you are following the letter of the law. What follows is simply a layman's interpretation and is not to be construed as qualified legal advice.

    That said, there are some things to keep in mind if you are going the "cheap" route and sending out the pre-lien letters by first class postage with a certificate of mailing. Primarily, the two options offered to the owner in 21703 will lead to different rights granted to, and responsibilities imposed upon the owner, under subsequent subsections of the code. It is important to understand these impositions and explore whether your company's policies are legal when venturing out on the various limbs of this decision tree.

    If you have chosen certified mail for the delivery method of the pre-lien notice, then in section 21705, you are entitled to the remedies found under subdivision a) therein. Namely:

    (a) If the notice required by Section 21703 is sent by
    certified mail and the total sum due has not been paid as of the date
    specified in the preliminary lien notice as the termination date,
    the lien imposed by this chapter attaches as of that date and the
    owner may do all of the following:
    (1) Deny an occupant access to the space.
    (2) Enter the space.
    (3) Remove any property found therein to a place of safe keeping.
    If you have chosen the cheaper route of first class postage with a certificate of mailing, then you are entitled to the remedy under subdivision (b).

    (b) If the notice required by Section 21703 is sent by regular
    first-class mail with a certificate of mailing and the total sum due
    has not been paid as of the termination date, the lien imposed by
    this chapter attaches as of that date and the owner may deny an
    occupant access to the space and enter the space. The owner may not
    remove the occupant's property until not less than 14 days after the
    termination date, during which time the occupant may regain full use
    of the space by paying the full lien amount.
    Careful reading of these two subdivisions will show that the primary distinction is one of timing, specifically the time that the owner may enter into, and remove items from, the unit. Certified mailing of the pre-lien gives you quicker access to the liened units, to make dispositions on, and possibly move/condense the belongings of said units. First class with certificate imposes a delay of two weeks. But wait those late night infomercials, that's not all!

    A potentially dangerous pitfall is hidden in subdivision (c), where it states:

    If the notice required by Section 21703 was sent by
    regular mail with a certificate of mailing, the notice of lien sale
    shall include a statement that the occupant may regain full use of
    the space by paying the full lien amount prior to the date specified
    in this paragraph.
    Therefore, if you sent the pre-lien first class with certificate, and your notice of lien sale letter does NOT contain this language, then you are in violation of the law. If you send the pre-lien certified mail, then this language does not need to be included, with the implication that the liened customer is not not entitled to the extra time in which to regain the use of their specific, previously rented space, by paying the owed amount. They could still regain possession of their goods, obviously, but those goods might be be located in some common holding area, smaller unit, et cetera, and subject to other conditions. Of course, that is an entirely different can of worms we're opening up there...

  6. #6
    Gina6k's Avatar
    Gina6k is offline Moderator
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    Apr 2008
    Morgan Hill, California


    And what happens to the 14 day waiting period if the CSSA's plan regarding the Opposition to Lien goes through in June or thereabouts.

    CA is an odd bird and a pain in the posterior. Lawsuits are pricey so we spend the $5.00+ on each and every lien letter. In the long run, it is a lot cheaper than getting sued!

    Besides the fees imposed by the notices are designed to cover costs.

    My 2 cents worth.
    Gina 6k
    Cochrane Storage dot com
    Morgan Hill, California

    My profile photo is a Blue Star flag meant to be displayed by families with active duty service members.

    You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough!
    I am not an attorney, just an experienced manager who is willing to share what I have learned. Your thoughts, practices or opinions may vary and neither of us may be right.

  7. #7
    glenmarkstorage is offline Junior Member
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    Mar 2008


    Yup Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested here, its exactly what judges want to see if you ever get there.

  8. #8
    shaekirk's Avatar
    shaekirk is offline Moderator
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    Jan 2008
    Beautiful Santa Clara, California


    I send the liens certified also, but I will send it regular mail as well, just in case they decide they won't accept the certified...

    I'll do anything to get my point across, though! Somehow, someway, I'll MAKE THEM READ IT...

    The customer isn't always right, the trick is making them think they are!



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