• Report: #569312

Complaint Review: Self Storage, Santa Rosa

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  • Submitted: Sun, February 14, 2010
  • Updated: Mon, August 15, 2011

  • Reported By: Anom — Santa Rosa California United States of America
Self Storage, Santa Rosa
2868 Dutton Meadow Santa Rosa, California United States of America
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Self Storage, Santa Rosa Questioning denying access to customers who are late Santa Rosa, California

*Author of original report: Do you know the lien laws?

*Consumer Comment: Lockout

*Consumer Comment: good to know

*Consumer Comment: You Cannot Deny Access Until The Lien is Perfected

*Consumer Comment: You Cannot Deny Access Until The Lien is Perfected

*Consumer Suggestion: California Allows Lock Out Sooner

*Author of original report: I understand that people should pay bills, but it says 14 days, not 2 or 3

*General Comment: Not sure about California

*Consumer Comment: Here's what I found.

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The situation I am trying to clarify is, my husband and I work for a self storage facility in Northern California and our employer is not following the law. For example, when someone tries to move out without paying, he has us lock out the gate code and put an over lock on their unit, I don't believe this is legal.

The next example is when a tenant doesn't pay by the 10th, on the 11th the gate code is locked out and overlocks are put on the units. We do have a walk through gate however, and our boss makes sure we know that. We have questioned him and he says he has legal rights to lock people out on the 11th because we want them to come in the office and tell us when they are going to pay. So as I said earlier, we have questioned whether this legal, so he came back to us with, we are to still overlock and lock out the gate, but when the customer comes in, we are to make a note in the computer, and then if they don't pay, they can go through the walk gate and we can unlock the unit, but once they leave we have to overlock the unit again. So in fact he is denying a vehicle from going through the main gate, but he is allowing someone to walk back only after they come in the office. How can someone who wants to move out and not pay their bill when they have to walk into the facility and not be able to drive up to it? To me this is denying access to the customers vehicle, which constitutes denying access, right?

Do we have the right to force someone to pay a bill before they can have their things? I have read the lien laws in California and they are very explicit in the fact that it says a Pre Lien letter must be sent stating that their rights to have access to their unit will be 14 days after we send the Pre lien letter, not that we can lock them out and make them come into the office.

Part of the issue I have with this is that, by not allowing a vehicle in, and stopping someone from moving out with a bill, has caused in the past a few tenants to lose their stuff to a lien sale. For example, one tenant came in on the 11th and said she couldn't pay and wanted to move out, she was told no, so she then incurred a pre lien charge, and then a lien charge, and then the next months rent, then another late fee, then the auction set up fee, then next months rent and another late fee...do you see where I am going with this? Needless to say if she couldn't pay the first months rent, how is she going to pay the rest of the bill? She ended up losing everything she owned and it could have been avoided had she been allowed to come in and move out.

I need to know from someone, can we legally lock up units and change gate codes before a final lien is in place? We are also being threatening stating that if we allow people into their unit without them paying or allowing them to go through the main gate without paying, we will be written up and fired. Self storage laws are in place for a reason, to protect consumers from owners that feel the bottom dollar rules over the law. If anyone can help us, we are in need of legal counsel. Not only now is our boss threatening, he is causing a hostile work environment which is taking a toll on our 2 small kids that live here also. For those of you who don't know, alot of storage facilities provide housing with the job, so if we lose our job, we also lose our home. But we feel at the same time that we should not be threatened into breaking the law.

Thanks!


This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 02/14/2010 01:50 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Self-Storage-Santa-Rosa/Santa-Rosa-California-95407/Self-Storage-Santa-Rosa-Questioning-denying-access-to-customers-who-are-late-Santa-Rosa-569312. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
2Author 7Consumer 0Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Author of original report

Do you know the lien laws?

AUTHOR: Deb1964 - (USA)

In answer to your question, yes I worked there and yes I do know the laws, obviously you don't however. And are opening yourself up to a lawsuit if you live in California and do business that way. Lien laws are very specific on when you may deny someone access to their belongings. What you are saying is that basically you can hold their items hostage until they pay, wrong!! You can't force anyone to pay any bill let alone deprive them of their belongings. You may want to re-read your storage laws.
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#2 Consumer Comment

Lockout

AUTHOR: StorageManager - (United States of America)

How do you work there and not know the law???

Yes, You can lockout the gate codes anytime you want.  I usually do this at the close of day on the 1st, since that is when the rent is due.  If you have not paid by 5pm you no longer have access to the unit.  I usually do my overlocks on the 6th of the month.

The lien charge is different than being late, lien means you are going to sell the stuff at auction for money they owe you.

The owners have a right to collect money that is owed to them, when you deny gate access it makes the tentant pay, this is all the owner wants.
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#3 Consumer Comment

good to know

AUTHOR: Ron storagelienlaws.com - (United States of America)

Thanks for the clarification Tom, good to know 
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#4 Consumer Comment

You Cannot Deny Access Until The Lien is Perfected

AUTHOR: Tom-storage expert - (U.S.A.)

California self storage facilities cannot create contractural terms that conflict with statutes.  In this case, one cannot contract with a tenant to deny them access prior to the perfection of their lien.  When you think about it, it makes sense.  If California facilities could contract away statuatory rights, the why not contracturally agree to not send notices at all, just phone calls for example.  Anyway, this is a well established legal concept. 

In California, the lien is perfected when the facility sends the tenant a Notice of Lien sale notification via regular or certified mail.  This occurs on or after 14 days after the mailing of the preliminary lien notice or typically, the 29th day.  Once the lien notice is mailed, then and only then can the facility deny the tenant access.  Any denial prior to the perfection of the lien violates the Business and Professions Code and could result in damages to the renter.   
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#5 Consumer Comment

You Cannot Deny Access Until The Lien is Perfected

AUTHOR: Tom-storage expert - (U.S.A.)

California self storage facilities cannot create contractural terms that conflict with statutes.  In this case, one cannot contract with a tenant to deny them access until the lien if perfected.  In California, the lien is perfected when the facility sends the tenant a Notice of Lien sale notification via regular or certified mail.  This occurs on or after 14 days after the mailing of the preliminary lien notice or typically, the 29th day.  Once the lien notice is mailed, then and only then can the facility deny the tenant access. 
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#6 Consumer Suggestion

California Allows Lock Out Sooner

AUTHOR: Ron storagelienlaws.com - (United States of America)

If you have in your rental agreement or addendum that the gate will be locked out sooner that the stated 30+ days in the California Statute, that is legal. The lien law statute given in an earlier post states that other rights,  to the facility or the tenant. Many facilities do their gate lock out on the 5th day, some sooner.

From the California Self Storage Statute
21713.  Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair or
affect the right of the parties to create additional rights, duties,
and obligations in and by virtue of the rental agreement. The rights
provided by this chapter shall be in addition to all other rights
provided by law to a creditor against his or her debtor.
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#7 Author of original report

I understand that people should pay bills, but it says 14 days, not 2 or 3

AUTHOR: Deb1964 - (USA)

Ok, I understand everybody that people should pay their bills, but to force them to pay or lose their stuff is wrong. Send them to collections, which we already do.

The law is very clear, it says that:

21703. If any part of the rent or other charges due from an occupant remain unpaid for 14 consecutive days, an owner may terminate the right of the occupant to the use of the storage space at a self-service storage facility by sending a notice to the occupant's last known address and to the alternative address specified in subdivision (b) of Section 21712. The notice shall be sent by certified mail, postage prepaid, or by regular first-class mail if the owner obtains a certificate of mailing indicating the date the notice was mailed. The notice shall contain all of the following:
(a) An itemized statement of the owner's claim showing the sums due at the time of the notice and the date when the sums became due.
(b) A statement that the occupant's right to use the storage space will terminate on a specified date (not less than 14 days after the mailing of the notice) unless all sums due are paid by the occupant prior to the specified date.
(c) A notice that the occupant may be denied access to the storage space after the termination date if the sums are not paid and that an owner's lien, as provided for in Section 21702, may be imposed thereafter.
(d) The name, street address, and telephone number of the owner or his or her designated agent whom the occupant may contact to respond to the notice.

 

So read the whole thing, it says the letter must be sent, and then 14 days after mailing the pre lien we can deny access,  not before then. So that means we should not be locking out until the next month when the final lien is in effect.

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#8 General Comment

Not sure about California

AUTHOR: Gabby - (U.S.A.)

I don't know the California laws, but I know in Ohio the process is the same as you mention.  The self storage place I used to work for, locked customer's out of the gate on the 7th day of the month, and over locked the unit on the same day.  Also, the "pre-lein" notice was mailed that day letting the customer know their unit has been overlocked. 


I'm pretty certain this is standard practice for most self storage places.  I'm going to assume most companies also use the same program, which you can set up to lock customers out automatically when their payments are late.


I don't see a problem with this.  The customer's should be told the policy when signing their leases.  It's their obligation to pay their bill, period.

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#9 Consumer Comment

Here's what I found.

AUTHOR: Leann - (U.S.A.)

I went to this website:  http://www.storagelaws.net/california.php to look up the laws concerning self storage facilities in CA.  What I found is your employer does have the right to deny access to any unit that is over 14 days past due in their rent.  He must, however, send a certified letter to the last known address of the tenant.  If you look at the site, you will find instructions on what to send in the letter and how long you have to wait before you can deny access.


I know you don't like these tactics but if these rules weren't in place, then everyone would have access to free storage.  People would just bring their stuff, not pay, and then move it when they felt like it.  You would be out of a job because the self storage facility you work for would be bankrupt. 


I used to work for a moving company where we had warehouse storage.  I had a couple of customers over the years request a delivery out date.  I would figure their charges (including any late charges if there were any) and tell them ahead of time.  Our guys would take the time to load their belongings, take them to their residence just to find out they don't have the full amount.  They would have to bring the items back and put them back into the warehouse until they have the money.  Yes it does seem mean but nothing in life is free.


My suggestion would be to look for another job.  I know first hand how frustrating it is to have to deal with people who can't pay their bills on time.  It can really get to you.  Good luck!

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