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Roommate jailed for assault - nonpayment of rent & abandoned property

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Zenazeo

Member
California

Am living in Central California; the 1 year rental agreement was signed 4 years ago with myself and partner/roommate both named on the lease. We have no written agreement between us. Peter and I had a verbal agreement to share household chores and expenses. I withdrew money from his account every month as needed sometimes providing him a spreadsheet of that month's expenses.

Peter went off his meds about a year ago, got crazy, abusive, addicted and verbally agreed to move but never did. Peter created huge messes leaving damage to the house and to my personal property. I have documented much of this with pictures, video and audio.

Peter began getting violent with me in November which escalated to my calling the police on Christmas day for him attacking me. Peter already had outstanding warrants as he’d previously gotten himself into trouble during the severe manic episodes. In my case, he plead guilty to 1 count felony assault with a deadly weapon, was sentenced to 1 yr in county jail and will be released the end of June after serving 6 months. There is a protective order preventing him from having any contact with me.

In the meantime, the landlord has given us notice to vacate as he wants to sell and move out of state. He gave me an email notice in January and sent nothing to Peter in jail. When he found this was not legal service, the landlord handed me a new notice on 4/1. I need to be gone by June 1.

There was enough money in Peter’s account to pay his share of the rent and clean up expenses through February. He did not pay his share of the rent for March or April. His property was here, everywhere and in the way. I separated our properties putting his in bags and boxes. There is enough money left in his account to move his property into a storage unit and pay 3 months rent.

Clearly he did not pay the past 2 months rent and has property here. I am willing to coordinate the effort to have his things stored safely until his release. I want to write him a letter demanding the back rent and stating if he does not pay the amount owed in three days I will consider his property to be abandoned. Further if he doesn’t reclaim the property in 15 days I will have it moved and stored at his expense. I am not his landlord but he assaulted me, cannot come back here and has made no arrangements to pay the rent as owed or to retrieve his property.

I know I can legally leave Peter's property for the landlord to deal with but he's been more than fair to us over the years and I don't want him to have this hassle. And although I do not want to see Peter again because of the violence, I still care about him and want to help him preserve what little he has.

Peter left a fair amount of damage to the rental (documented). I plan to include a list of the damages in this letter as this will effect the deposit return.

I already called the jail to find out how to send him a certified letter.

I need help drafting the demand letter. Thank you for any and all help.

Legal Aid has been helping me with the landlord and other tenant related issues.

Edit: Since I paid Peter's share of two months rent, can I be considered his landlord?

Under these circumstances can I include a 3 day notice to quit if he doesn't pay the rent? Then an 18 day notice of property abandonment? Is this even necessary?

The lease is a boilerplate Basic Rental Agreement or Residential Lease with no specific provision for Jointly and Severally Liability. There is no mention of abandoned property stating only that the rental is not considered vacated until all the resident's property has been removed.

Researching abandoned property found this last night:
"If you believe the property is worth less than $700, then you don’t have to sell the property. You can either keep it for your own use or dispose of it in any legal manner (see Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 1988(a))."
His property is less worth less than $700 but it's all he has. I do not want to keep these items and I do not want the landlord to either. I just want to legally move them into storage on Peter's behalf.

I have repeatedly asked either the DA's Victim Advocate or emailed Peter's public defender asking for Peter's wishes relative to his personal property. I have emails going back to January about this. Since there was never any response, can I consider this as abandonment?

No response about the property or rent payment for over 30 days. Can I just notify him that his property has been abandoned for over the 30 days and at his expense I am moving it to a local storage prepaying rent until after his release?

Under the circumstances I am the bailee:
"Bailment describes a legal relationship in common law where physical possession of personal property, or a chattel, is transferred from one person (the 'bailor') to another person (the 'bailee') who subsequently has possession of the property."

Thanks for any comments or help. Peter said a lot of crazy things threatening me in any number of ways. I'm trying to stay proactive and not become a victim. I am 70 yrs old, retired and living on social security; tried helping an old friend and got a lot of grief for my efforts.
 
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Ohiogal

Queen Bee
California

Am living in Central California; the 1 year rental agreement was signed 4 years ago with myself and partner/roommate both named on the lease. We have no written agreement between us. Peter and I had a verbal agreement to share household chores and expenses. I withdrew money from his account every month as needed sometimes providing him a spreadsheet of that month's expenses.

Peter went off his meds about a year ago, got crazy, abusive, addicted and verbally agreed to move but never did. Peter created huge messes leaving damage to the house and to my personal property. I have documented much of this with pictures, video and audio.

Peter began getting violent with me in November which escalated to my calling the police on Christmas day for him attacking me. Peter already had outstanding warrants as he’d previously gotten himself into trouble during the severe manic episodes. In my case, he plead guilty to 1 count felony assault with a deadly weapon, was sentenced to 1 yr in county jail and will be released the end of June after serving 6 months. There is a protective order preventing him from having any contact with me.

In the meantime, the landlord has given us notice to vacate as he wants to sell and move out of state. He gave me an email notice in January and sent nothing to Peter in jail. When he found this was not legal service, the landlord handed me a new notice on 4/1. I need to be gone by June 1.

There was enough money in Peter’s account to pay his share of the rent and clean up expenses through February. He did not pay his share of the rent for March or April. His property was here, everywhere and in the way. I separated our properties putting his in bags and boxes. There is enough money left in his account to move his property into a storage unit and pay 3 months rent.

Clearly he did not pay the past 2 months rent and has property here. I am willing to coordinate the effort to have his things stored safely until his release. I want to write him a letter demanding the back rent and stating if he does not pay the amount owed in three days I will consider his property to be abandoned. Further if he doesn’t reclaim the property in 15 days I will have it moved and stored at his expense. I am not his landlord but he assaulted me, cannot come back here and has made no arrangements to pay the rent as owed or to retrieve his property.

I know I can legally leave Peter's property for the landlord to deal with but he's been more than fair to us over the years and I don't want him to have this hassle. And although I do not want to see Peter again because of the violence, I still care about him and want to help him preserve what little he has.

Peter left a fair amount of damage to the rental (documented). I plan to include a list of the damages in this letter as this will effect the deposit return.

I already called the jail to find out how to send him a certified letter.

I need help drafting the demand letter. Thank you for any and all help.

Legal Aid has been helping me with the landlord and other tenant related issues.

Edit: Since I paid Peter's share of two months rent, can I be considered his landlord?

Under these circumstances can I include a 3 day notice to quit if he doesn't pay the rent? Then an 18 day notice of property abandonment? Is this even necessary?

The lease is a boilerplate Basic Rental Agreement or Residential Lease with no specific provision for Jointly and Severally Liability. There is no mention of abandoned property stating only that the rental is not considered vacated until all the resident's property has been removed.

Researching abandoned property found this last night:
"If you believe the property is worth less than $700, then you don’t have to sell the property. You can either keep it for your own use or dispose of it in any legal manner (see Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 1988(a))."
His property is less worth less than $700 but it's all he has. I do not want to keep these items and I do not want the landlord to either. I just want to legally move them into storage on Peter's behalf.

I have repeatedly asked either the DA's Victim Advocate or emailed Peter's public defender asking for Peter's wishes relative to his personal property. I have emails going back to January about this. Since there was never any response, can I consider this as abandonment?

No response about the property or rent payment for over 30 days. Can I just notify him that his property has been abandoned for over the 30 days and at his expense I am moving it to a local storage prepaying rent until after his release?

Under the circumstances I am the bailee:
"Bailment describes a legal relationship in common law where physical possession of personal property, or a chattel, is transferred from one person (the 'bailor') to another person (the 'bailee') who subsequently has possession of the property."

Thanks for any comments or help. Peter said a lot of crazy things threatening me in any number of ways. I'm trying to stay proactive and not become a victim. I am 70 yrs old, retired and living on social security; tried helping an old friend and got a lot of grief for my efforts.
You are not his landlord because he has a landlord. Your lease doesn't state per you jointly and severally liable so why have you paid the entire rent? Have you talked to the landlord? You are not Peter's landlord. You need to sue Peter in small claims court.
 

Zenazeo

Member
You are not his landlord because he has a landlord. Your lease doesn't state per you jointly and severally liable so why have you paid the entire rent? Have you talked to the landlord? You are not Peter's landlord. You need to sue Peter in small claims court.
Yes, in an email, the landlord holds me jointly and severally liable for the rent and condition of the house. The lease refers to us both as the residents. I am not interested in suing him.. Peter did not pay his share of the rent and left his property. Am I the bailee who can legally dispose of this property?
 
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Zenazeo

Member
At this time I am only concerned with the property that is valued less than $700 in total.. Peter did not pay rent for 2 months and has not contacted me through his public defender about his property. It's been over 30 days, since I am in possession of his property am I the bailee? I just want to move it into storage at his expense. Trying to do the right thing and make sure I act in a legal manner including to notify Peter properly.
 

Zenazeo

Member
He still lives in the apartment and therefore you can't move it.
Peter does not live here any longer, has been in jail since 12/24 and there is a protective order in place; he cannot contact me. He has not paid rent for 60 days.
 

Zenazeo

Member
Is it your position that despite the situation, Peter can stop paying rent and I have no recourse available to me about dealing with his possessions?
 

not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
Is it your position that despite the situation, Peter can stop paying rent and I have no recourse available to me about dealing with his possessions?
As a victim of domestic violence (hey, you were attacked in your home by a household member), you do have rights.

Not paying the rent does not seem to be one of those rights. Since you have chose to remain there, apparently you are responsible for rent.

As you seem to not be able to afford the rent alone, you should have moved. You could have terminated your tenancy, as the victim of domestic violence, with appropriate notice, without the usual negative consequences of breaking a lease.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
Your lease doesn't state per you jointly and severally liable so why have you paid the entire rent?
In this case, joint and several liability is presumed per California Civil Code sections 1659 & 1660:

https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/civil-code/civ-sect-1659.html
Where all the parties who unite in a promise receive some benefit from the consideration, whether past or present, their promise is presumed to be joint and several.

and

https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/civil-code/civ-sect-1660.html
A promise, made in the singular number, but executed by several persons, is presumed to be joint and several.
 

Zenazeo

Member
As a victim of domestic violence (hey, you were attacked in your home by a household member), you do have rights.

Not paying the rent does not seem to be one of those rights. Since you have chose to remain there, apparently you are responsible for rent.

As you seem to not be able to afford the rent alone, you should have moved. You could have terminated your tenancy, as the victim of domestic violence, with appropriate notice, without the usual negative consequences of breaking a lease.
Don't know where you got this from. I have been paying the rent, Peter has not and stuff is still here. How can I legally remove his stuff? That is my question.
 

Zenazeo

Member
In this case, joint and several liability is presumed per California Civil Code sections 1659 & 1660:

https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/civil-code/civ-sect-1659.html
Where all the parties who unite in a promise receive some benefit from the consideration, whether past or present, their promise is presumed to be joint and several.

and

https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/civil-code/civ-sect-1660.html
A promise, made in the singular number, but executed by several persons, is presumed to be joint and several.
Again, Peter has not paid his share of the rent for 2 months, his property is here and in my way. I don't want him to lose what little he has because he will still be in jail after I move and the property is worth less than $700 so the landlord can just keep it. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/handling-tenants-abandoned-property-california.html
There is a provision in the lease that states a tenant isn't fully moved out until ALL their property is gone. Since Peter's property is here at the rental, I am responsible for it's removal under the terms of the lease.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
Don't know where you got this from. I have been paying the rent, Peter has not and stuff is still here. How can I legally remove his stuff? That is my question.
Again, Peter has not paid his share of the rent for 2 months, his property is here and in my way. I don't want him to lose what little he has because he will still be in jail after I move and the property is worth less than $700 so the landlord can just keep it.https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/handling-tenants-abandoned-property-california.html
There is a provision in the lease that states a tenant isn't fully moved out until ALL their property is gone. Since Peter's property is here at the rental, I am responsible for it's removal under the terms of the lease.
Yes, and if it's not removed, causing the landlord to remove it, the landlord can pursue you individually for the cost of doing so.

Furthermore, I suspect that your payment of the rent from his funds after he was jailed may have exceeded the scope of any prior authorization for such transactions. In other words, he (the ex roommate) may have a reason to pursue you for repayment. Of course, you may have a valid defense to that...but he can still go after you for it.
 
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