Are you running out of room or downsizing your home? If so, you may find yourself looking for a self-service storage facility to temporarily store your property. The California Self-Service Storage Facility Act (Business & Professions Code Sections 21700 et. seq.) governs self-service storage facilities. This Act provides very specific guidelines for the rental contract, late fees, and the attachment liens and sale of your property that may occur due to non-payment of rent and fees.
The Self-Service Storage Facility Act defines a self-service storage facility as any facility designed and used for renting individual storage spaces to occupants. The occupants have exclusive access to the space for the purpose of storing and removing personal property. The Self-Service Storage Facility Act does not apply to garages or other storage areas in private residences.
Under section 21712 of the Self-Service Storage Facility Act, all contracts for renting storage space must be in writing. The contract must specify any applicable late fees, and must include a statement that the occupant's property will be subject to a lien, and may be sold, if rent and other charges remain unpaid for 14 consecutive days.
Self-storage facility owners may charge reasonable late fees if the renter does not pay the entire amount for rent and other fees, as specified in the rental agreement. The owner must wait until payment is at least 10 days late before assessing any late fees. Only one late fee may be assessed for each payment that is late. Under section 21713.5, maximum late fees are limited to:
- $10 if the monthly rent is less than $60
- $15 if the monthly rent is $60 - $100
- $20 or 15% (whichever is greater) if the monthly rent is more than $100
The owners of the self-service storage facility have a lien on all personal property located at the self-storage facility for rent, labor, late-payment fees or other charges, present or future, incurred pursuant to the rental agreement, and for expenses necessary for the storage, sale, or disposal of personal property.
If any part of the rent or other charges is unpaid for 14 consecutive days, a storage facility owner may terminate the right of the occupant to the use of the storage space by sending a notice to the last known address. Business & Professions code 21703 details the information that must be included in the preliminary lien notice.
If the renter does not pay the full amount by the date specified in the preliminary lien notice, the owner's lien attaches to the personal property. At that time, the owner may enter the space and deny the occupant access to it. If the notice of lien was sent by certified mail, the owner may also remove property found in the space to a place of safekeeping. If the notice was sent by first class mail, the owner must wait 14 days before removing the property.
Once the lien attaches, the owner must send the occupant a Notice of Lien Sale and a blank Declaration in Opposition to Lien Sale form. The required contents of the Notice of Lien Sale are detailed in Business & Professions code 21705.
After the lien attaches, if no declaration in opposition to the lien sale is executed, the owner of the self-service facility may sell the property. The sale must be advertised for two weeks prior to the sale. The advertisement must include a description of the property to be sold, the name of the storage space occupant, and the name and location of the storage facility.
After the sale, the storage facility owner must hold any proceeds in excess of the lien and costs of the sale for the occupant. The occupant may claim this money at any time within one year of the date of sale. After one year, any unclaimed proceeds are turned over to the county treasury.
By Mary Pinard, Public Services Librarian
updated 3/13 mpj