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Ca Lien Laws for Vehicles and on-site auctions

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  • Ca Lien Laws for Vehicles and on-site auctions

    Hi all, I recently started managing a Self storage facility in California, and I'm new to the storage business in general. So glad I found this site it has been really helpful, but I do have a couple questions I haven't been able to find answered yet.

    First, I have a vehicle(small travel trailer) stored on the property that the owner hasn't paid rent for about 4 months. I have sent the owner a pre-lien notice and a notice of lien sale, like i do for my Units, and i still haven't heard from the owner. I have tried to look up the lien laws for vehicles, but its so confusing! I'm not sure how to proceed. It looks like I need to file an application for Lien sale with the DMV, but i'm not sure if that's what i need to do first... Basically I'm hoping someone know a simple step-by-step process of the procedure. Also, It seems it might be different for a motor-home/boat/or pull behind trailer?

    Second question, I have about 6 units ready for auction, just need to run the ad once a week for 2 consecutive weeks. According to the California B&P code the "The sale shall be conducted in a commercially reasonable manner." I'm assuming that means I am not required to have a licensed auctioneer? I cant figure out how to find one if I did. I've seen people mention having all those in attendance to the auction sign in and get copies of the drivers licence. Does anyone have any advice as to what the sign in sheet should have on it (like a disclaimer/hold harmless etc)? Also, Does it have to be an auction? Can I pick through the unit and sell it garage sale style? And if I do, Do I still have to run an ad in the paper?

    Any help appreciated

  • #2
    So I was able to do more research and I think I understand the Lien Laws for Vehicles at least a little better. I was able to find this page on the DMV for "How to Conduct a Lien Sale For a Vehicle Stored at a Self-Storage Facility or Valued over $4,000" link below.
    Last edited by Alicia1018; 11th January 2019, 06:32 PM.


    • #3
      Welcome to the forum. I've learned the hard way that when it comes to storage lien laws, most reference materials either give you part of the answer, or explain it in such a way that need a degree to decipher it. I hope you find everything you're looking for.

      I don't work out of Commiefornia, but the company's other sites out there typically have the vehicles towed because process to sell it outright is too much of a p.i.t.a. just to collect a couple months worth of rent. I've heard on rare occasion, if the bill is high enough, they'll go through the hassle of selling it though. When we auction a customer's unit off to cover due rent, we only get to keep what is owed when the unit sells. If the unit sells for more than is owed, the difference is sent to the customer in the form of a check. It's a lot of work to navigate the legal hoops and paperwork to sell a car for $5k, pay yourself the $400.00 owed on a parking space for example and mail the customer a check for $4600.00

      As for your auctions, have you tried Storage Treasures? It's basically Ebay for storage units. That's what my company uses in all the states we operate in. The website is publicly accessible and considered commercially reasonable. Using the website is much easier than scheduling a date with an auctioneer and having a herd of people wandering around the property. Browse auctions from facilities near you to see how they set up their terms and conditions for the sale. It needs to have all your legal safeguards like informing people that you make no guarantee as to what is in the unit, all sales are final, etc. etc. My terms spell out clearly that all winning bidders must pay the balance in cash and give me a refundable cleaning deposit of $100, also in cash. They must pay me by the close of business the day the auction is won and have 72 hours from the time the auction ends to remove the items and leave the storage unit broom swept. The property is also only accessible during office hours. We do not give auction winners a code to access the gate.
      A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.


      • #4
        By the time I moved from CA I believe you have the option to just have it towed away now.
        90% of what you're stressing about now won't even be relevant in a year. Breathe easy. ~Wesley Snipes

        WA State


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