The El Monte, Calif., City Council voted unanimously on Feb. 2 to impose a temporary ban on self-storage lien procedures. The ordinance prohibits facility operators from restricting unit access to past-due renters, sending lien notices and conducting unit auctions. It also stipulates that delinquent tenants must eventually pay fees that amass between when the ordinance was adopted through when it expires on July 2, according to the source.
City officials acted after some community members complained to Mayor Pro Tem Victoria Martinez Muela that their stored items had been sold at auction in response to non-payment. The former self-storage tenants said they were upset that there were no policies in place to protect them during the pandemic. The El Monte decree effectively extends an earlier Los Angeles County rule against self-storage tenant evictions, the source reported.
The ordinance was opposed by the national Self Storage Association (SSA). In a letter to officials, Joe Doherty, senior vice president and chief legal/legislative officer for the SSA, noted that local operators were working closely with customers to address late-payment issues and offer options to vacate units or enter payment plans. He argued operators should be able to enter voluntary agreements with delinquent tenants.
There are four self-storage facilities in El Monte, according to the source.
The order is similar to others enacted last year in California during the early stages of the pandemic. Livermore banned self-storage lien sales, while Pasadena added self-storage to its eviction moratorium.
San Gabriel Valley Tribune, El Monte Temporarily Prohibiting Evictions, Lien Sales of Storage Unit Tenants