Several times, I’ve come across the situation of abandoned vehicles on rental property. Typically, this scenario arises after an eviction and a sheriff’s lockout, and the landlord finds a broken down vehicle in a garage or on the side of the building. I have gotten frantic calls from landlords and property managers about what to do and if they are responsible for storing the vehicle. Here is what you can do about this messy situation.

  1. Contact the Tenant Regarding Their Vehicle and Other Personal Belongings

Probably the easiest and most cost-efficient way to deal with this situation is to get in contact with your evicted tenant about the vehicle and any other possessions left at the property. Generally, you can make arrangements with your tenant to claim personal belongings the day of the lockout. I tell landlords all the time to allow tenants to get their stuff since (1) it’s the law, and (2) it’s better for them to clear out their stuff than having to deal with it yourself. By law, if a tenant was served a writ of possession by the sheriff in an eviction case, you have to safe keep the tenant’s belongings for 15 days after the sheriff performs the eviction. The million-dollar question I get is this: Rob do I also have to store the vehicle for 15 days? Technically, for many landlords, the answer may be no.

  1. Utilizing the Remedies in California Vehicle Code § 22658

For many residential landlords, vehicles left on a property after an eviction can be towed away at the tenant’s expense. Section 22658 of the California Vehicle Code deals with vehicles left on private property. Although there are many grounds for towing a vehicle, the most relevant sections for most landlords are Sections 22658(a)(3) and 22658(a)(4), which allow for the towing of vehicles that are inoperable and on residential property. Using these two provisions in the Vehicle Code could save you, the landlord, a lot of hassle when you’re getting a property ready to rent again.