If our lodger never came up with a deposit and has not returned since receiving the 3 day notice to quit, can we hold abandoned belongings until paid?

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If our lodger never came up with a deposit and has not returned since receiving the 3 day notice to quit, can we hold abandoned belongings until paid?

We were kind enough to give our “lodger” time and options to come up with “last month’s rent”, after 2 months of excuses and then the failure to pay the current rent 7 days after it was due I served her with a 3 day quit via email as well as a copy under her door. It is the 4th day and she has not responded to the email or texts. Today we entered the room and OMG the damage she did in 2 months. We moved her belongings to the garage and changed the locks. Since we never were able to collect any money that we could deduct from, what are our rights as to recovering the cost of the damages?

Asked on August 11, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You can sue your renter for the cost to repair the damage she did; for the cost of "extraordinary" cleaning, which goes beyond normal end-of-tenancy cleaing (e.g. if you had to rent a dumpster or carting service to get rid of all the garbage); and for unpaid rent. You may not hold her belongings, however, until/unless she pays--unless she actually gave you a security interest in those belongings (used them as collateral), you have no right in or over them. One option is to sue in small claims court, where you can act as your own attorney.


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