What is a landlord's exposure/responsibility for a former tenent's abandoned property? Can I be sued for disposing the property?
2 Answers from Attorneys
Sued? Yes. With success? Perhaps.
The relative rights of a landlord and a (former) tenant to property left behind upon termination of a rental are established by law.
I'd suggest three ways to figuring out what your rights are as a landlord: (1) read Civil Code sections 1980 to 1991, entitled "Disposition of Personal Property Remaining on Premises at Termination of Tenancy"; (2) get one of the paperback self-help law books on the general subject of "how to be a landlord in California" which include "The California Landlord's Law Book" (Nolo Press) by Brown and Warner, but there are others (be sure anything you use is California oriented!); or have a conference with a real estate attorney who represents landlords.
I agree with Mr. Whipple.