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Unsure What Can Be Done Legally....

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  • Unsure What Can Be Done Legally....

    We have a tenant who has rented from us since 2011. She entered into the rental agreement with a public guardian who is responsible for her payments. Some time ago, she had her lock cut off due to non-payment (the public guardian didn't pay the full rent) and our lock was put on, and inventory taken. Inventory shows the unit is a mess, nothing in containers, everything just loosely piled as high as possible. They began paying the correct amount, never replacing our lock with their own. Eventually, the situation got forgotten about but resurfaced years later as I took over managing the facility. Now we are having alarm troubles in that unit and think it could be related to the way things are stored in there. No one has been to the unit in years, and the main tenant appears to be unreachable in some sort of residential hospital out of the area and yet the public guardian is still paying for the unit every month on time. My question is how can we request her to vacate since we no longer have contact information? It won't go to auction because of the payments and I wouldn't dare declare it abandoned when payments are consistent but we don't want the messy storage to attract rodents or get damp and cause mold.
    I was thinking that we could state a breach of contract since we weren't updated about her contact information but it seems so heartless to just get rid of her belongings - and I am not even sure if it's legal to do so.
    I'm in California if that helps.

  • #2
    You can process an eviction, but the circumstances make that difficult. You'd have to go through court.

    The thing is, you could have 100 other customers that have units that are filled the same way. You only know this one because of photos years ago. I don't see that as a reason to evict, especially when they pay on time.

    If the alarm is an issue, you should have a clause in your contract allowing you to access with a few days notice if maintenance needs to be done. So give the notice to the contact address/phone/email on file. Then go in after the allotted number of days and fix the alarm issue. Then re-lock and re-seal and keep right on accepting rent.

    If you were going to have rodents or mold, it would have happened long ago.


    • #3
      Those are good points. I definitely don't want to go to court if I can avoid it. Thank you


      • #4
        As mentioned before, the signed lease should allow you to address any alarm or maintenance issues inside a unit. I always try to contact the tenant first before I would cut a lock or enter a unit, but the lease wording should allow access (since you do not have to cut the lock, that would save that step). I would take pictures of everything and then move things to gain access to the detector or sensor. Then move everything back and take pictures and then lock it back up. If it is a detector (ion, smoke or heat) they do go bad, also if the wires are exposed creatures like the plastic coating. If it is a multiple day job, you may want to bag, box or tote items up and move to an MT unit nearby. I do not charge for my time or materials since I require the access. I do not believe you need to evict the tenant. Keep detailed tenant notes and pictures.


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