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Who is ready for a challenge? This tenant/landlord situation is crazy!

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? California (Napa County)

Five years ago I rented a room in a 3 bedroom house. Paid 1st and last. Quickly determined the living situation was detrimental. Was away from the residence for a couple of days. Then gave notice to move out, 11 days after moving in. The response I got was the locks were changed and I had to coordinate with the owner's schedule to get my belongings. Conditions by landlord: had to arrive alone, had to sign a release of liability before moving a thing. Five appointments made with landlord. Two of them didn't work out, my fault. One didn't work out as landlord was not there as scheduled (I verified changed locks while there). One was cancelled by landlord when I mentioned possibility of having local authorities with me for a civil standby. Final attempt was offered to me by text message and I had one hour to respond. Didn't even see the message until it was too late. Final communications stated my belongings would be disposed of. It was a nightmare and once it was too late, I decided to put it behind me.

Was just contacted by landlord and told they still have my belongings. They had them in storage for five years. If I paid the five years worth of storage costs, I could have my stuff back. This was quickly followed by a more "reasonable" offer, that I only need to pay $1000 instead of 60 months at $75 = $4500. Cashier's check before I can even see my stuff. Having no proof that they really did still have my stuff, or if they did, was it really in a storage facility (or in the garage of the residence where most of it was when I left), I felt it ridiculous to comply. But I countere offered a month of the storage fees. The landlord balked, did lots of shifting the focus of the blame on me and once again threatened to dispose of everything.

STATEMENTS MADE BY LANDLORD (all by text message to my email account and I have saved them all)
"Remove your belongings by this weekend or they will be disposed of."
"I will have a release of liability you must sign, and I will have witnesses, and you must arrive alone."
"Authorities won't be here but your threats to lie to them and tell them I am trying to keep your stuff has caused me to contact them."
"We are in agreement then. See you noon tomorrow (and have your stuff out) to sunset."... (then my response that I may invite local authorities for a civil standby) "...That's fine as well, actually. Oops, looked at the wrong day on my calendar, tomorrow won't do. I'll just put your stuff in storage."
"If you text me when you get here, with no unnecessary police presence, I will meet you. You have an hour to respond. This is my final offer."
"I'm forced to put your belongings in storage. If it goes beyond 30 days without pay, your things will be disposed of."
"Since you are claiming tenants rights you will be billed for moving and storage..."

Ok, whew. I would love to tackle this myself but there seem to be grey areas.

Q: Since I rented a room (with access to common areas) and not the whole dwelling, am I a tenant? Or did I hire a room as a lodger?

Q: Does landlord have the right to change locks in a rented room situation? Or keep me from entering the residence to get my belongings if they were not at home (it was fine for me to be there alone during the short time I was there)?

Q: THE BIG QUESTION...How do I get my belongings without letting them soak me for some larcenous amount of money? And how quickly must I act if there is now a fresh threat to dispose of my things in 30 days (now 24 or so)?

Told you this one would be a challenge.


Senior Member
It's your challenge. I'm sure you can find most, if not all, of your answers here: http://tinyurl.com/ltttac8

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