Amendments to California Assembly Bill 655, intended to improve the state’s self-storage lien law, passed the Senate on Friday with a 30-0 vote. The measure must now be approved by the State Assembly and be signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger before it becomes law.
Championed by the California Self Storage Association (CSSA) with financial support from the national Self Storage Association (SSA), AB 655 modifies the current lien law as it relates to mail-notification protocols and the "Declaration in Opposition to Lien Sale" provision.
The bill relaxes notification requirements for self-storage operators, allowing delivery via First Class Mail with certificate of mailing as opposed to the more expensive Certified Mail.
In regard to the Declaration, the associations sought to eliminate it completely, but legislators were not open to such a dramatic change. Compromises will result in significant savings to California self-storage operators if the law is passed. The revised law would allow operators to file suit in small-claims court, a much less costly procedure than through the current superior-court system. Operators can still file in superior court when small-claims court is not the best forum, such as with an out-of-state tenant.
The revised law also provides storage operators with guidance on when a Declaration can be considered invalid. For example, one of the most common types of defects is when delinquent tenants provide an incorrect address or no address in the Declaration.
Another new provision of the law requires the tenant to explicitly state why he believes the lien on his property is invalid. This will require the tenant to articulate why the owner's lien is not legally valid before returning the Declaration. It also gives the facility owner a clear understanding of the customer’s reasons for returning the Declaration.
To view more details about AB 655, visit California AB 655.