Articles Posted in Landlord - Tenant

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's finding that defendant violated her settlement agreement with the City and permanently enjoining her from terminating tenancies at 1263–1267-1/2 North Crescent Heights Boulevard in West Hollywood. However, the court reversed the trial court's imposition of a permanent injunction because the injunction in its current state was unenforceable. In this case, defendant offered units 1265-1/2, 1265-3/4 and 1267 for rent within 10 years of their withdrawal. Consequently, defendant must offer the previously withdrawn units for rent or lease to the displaced tenants. However, defendant does not have to offer the units at their previous rental rates. The court explained that, after remand and upon motion, the trial court should exercise its discretion and determine once again which party is entitled to recover attorney fees. View "City of West Hollywood v. Kihagi" on Justia Law

Posted in: Landlord - Tenant

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After a shopping center tenant defaulted on a secured loan, the lender took possession of the premises through foreclosure and transferred its interest to a third party. The third party then surrendered the premises and the landord filed suit against the lender to enforce the lease obligations. The Court of Appeal reversed the grant of summary adjudication for the landlord, holding that the purchase of the leasehold estate in this case—identified in the deed of trust by reference to the lease—did not constitute an express agreement to assume the obligations of the lease. In this case, the record showed that the lender did not expressly assume the lease. View "BRE DDR BR Whittwood CA, LLC v. Farmers & Merchants Bank" on Justia Law

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Duarte's Oakland property was occupied by Bowers. Bowers’s daughter, Pleasants, moved into the property and remained after Bowers died. In February 2012, Duarte gave Pleasants a 45-day notice to quit, but she did not leave. On April 19, Duarte obtained landlord-tenant insurance coverage for the property with Pacific, including “Owners, Landlords & Tenants Liability Coverage,” effective April 19, 2012. In June 2012, Pleasants sued Duarte, alleging that habitability defects had allegedly existed throughout the tenancy. Duarte tendered defense of the suit to Pacific, which denied coverage. Duarte sought a declaration that the policy required Pacific to defend the tenant suit and sought damages for breach of contract. Pacific alleged material misrepresentations by Duarte on the application; he represented that there were no disputes concerning the property although he knew that the tenant had complained to the city and that there was no business conducted on the property although he knew the tenant was running a business. The court of appeal ruled in favor of Duarte. Pacific’s question about the existence of pending claims, property disputes, or lawsuits concerning the property was “utterly ambiguous.” Pacific did not show that Duarte knew a “business” was conducted on the property at the time he submitted his application. View "Duarte v. Pacific Specialty Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The landlord filed a unlawful detainer action against Nancy, her adult son Donn, and Donn‘s wife Olga, alleging that they refused to vacate a unit in a building that was withdrawn from residential rental use pursuant the Ellis Act. (Gov. Code 7060). The trial court granted a motion to quash the complaint, finding that the landlord failed to tender a relocation payment to Donn and Olga‘s minor son David, as required by section 37.9A(e) of the San Francisco Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance. The landlord had paid each of the adults $2,632.55 and had given Nancy another $1,755.03, as payment of the first half of additional relocation payment due to her senior status. The appellate division of the superior court affirmed the trial court‘s order. The court of appeal reversed, holding that a minor displaced by an Ellis Act eviction is not a “tenant” under the Ordinance. The court distinguished between “lawful occupants” and “tenants.” View "Danger Panda, LLC v. Launiu" on Justia Law

Posted in: Landlord - Tenant

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Two trial courts invalidated San Francisco ordinances increasing the relocation assistance payments property owners owe their tenants under the Ellis Act, Gov. Code 7060, finding the ordinances facially preempted by the Act. The Ellis Act prohibits a city or county from “compel[ling] the owner of any residential real property to offer, or to continue to offer, accommodations in the property for rent or lease.” The ordinances, intended to mitigate the impact of evictions on low-income tenants, required the greater of either an inflation-adjusted base relocation payout per tenant of $5,555.21 to $16,665.59 per unit, with an additional payment of $3,703.46 to each elderly or disabled evicted tenant or “the difference between the tenant’s current rent and the prevailing rent for a comparable apartment in San Francisco over a two-year period.” In a consolidated appeal, the court of appeal affirmed, stating that “a locality may not impose additional burdensome requirements upon the exercise of state statutory remedies that undermine the very purpose of the state statute.” View "Coyne v. City and County of San Francisco" on Justia Law

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Shalizi purchased an apartment building and wanted to move into unit four. Geraghty had been renting unit four for 22 years and was paying $938 a month. Shalizi’s attorney sent a letter informing Geragthy that Shalizi intended to commence an owner move-in eviction (Ellis Act “no fault” eviction), but suggested a voluntary buyout agreement. Shalizi and Geragthy entered into an agreement that promised Geraghty $25,000 and gave him several months to depart. Geraghty released Shalizi from “any and all claims which have or may have arisen from Tenant’s occupancy of the Premises at any time or any and all claims related to the Premises, including, but not limited to, claims for wrongful eviction, non-compliance with or violations of the provisions of the San Francisco Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance [SFRRSAO] and Rules and Regulations, . . . [or the] right to reoccupy the Premises.” Geraghty vacated and Shalizi paid. Shalizi began $70,000 in renovations and occupied the unit. Months later, Shalizi lost his job. Months later, Shalizi found new work, but had to relocate. He rented unit four to a new tenant for $3,700 a month. After discovering Shalizi was again renting out unit four, Geraghty sued for violation of the San Francisco rent ordinance, negligence, fraud, and rescission. The trial court granted Shalizi summary judgment. The court of appeal affirmed, finding Geraghty’s waiver valid and enforceable. View "Geraghty v. Shalizi" on Justia Law

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Landlord Beach Break Equities, LLC. (Beach Break) filed an unlawful detainer action against tenant Martin Lowell. The court granted Beach Break's summary judgment motion on the possession issue, and issued a writ of possession (reserving damage issues). Lowell appealed the possession order to the appellate division of the superior court (appellate division). While the appeal was pending, Beach Break evicted Lowell under the authority of the writ of possession. The appellate division reversed the possession order, finding triable issues of fact on the possession issue and remanded for a trial. In so doing, the appellate division expressly ordered that Lowell was entitled to seek restitution for any damages caused by the premature eviction. After the matter was transferred to an unlimited civil department, the trial court ruled Lowell was not entitled to a restitution hearing because he had not filed an affirmative cross-complaint. Over Lowell's objection, Beach Break then dismissed its action and the court entered a final judgment. Lowell appealed. After review, the Court of Appeal determined the trial court erred in denying Lowell's request for a hearing on his restitution claim. Under settled law, Lowell was entitled to a restitution hearing even without filing a cross-complaint. View "Beach Break Equities v. Lowell" on Justia Law

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The Foundation provides performing arts and social justice programs. Presidio Trust granted the Foundation a lease (through 2013) at below-market rates for Building 1158. The Foundation remodeled at a cost of over $300,000. Building 1158 offered a safe drop-off area for children, adequate parking, and exclusive use of the building. The Foundation’s operational revenues increased from $300,000 in 2007 to $464,000 in 2010. In 2009, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) began to construct a south access to the Golden Gate Bridge, which required the use of property controlled by Presidio Trust. The Trust agreed to deliver specified property—including Building 1158. Caltrans informed the Foundation it would demolish Building 1158. The Foundation began to search for another location; no comparable space was immediately found. The Foundation cancelled its 2010 summer program and its Annual Benefit. It lost students, donors, staff, and partners. The Foundation vacated Building 1158 in 2011. Caltrans paid $107,000 as just compensation for the Foundation‘s lost improvements. Weeks after vacating, the Foundation leased space in Building 386, which costs more, offers less functional space, lacks a safe drop-off zone, has less parking, lacks evening public transportation, shares restrooms with a business, and is an historical building that limits configuration of space. The Foundation sought compensation for loss of goodwill. Caltrans denied the claim and sought declaratory relief. The trial court found that, although the Foundation demonstrated it had goodwill before the taking and lost goodwill due to the taking, it did not prove a calculated “quantitative” loss. The court of appeal reversed, finding that an expert‘s quantification based on a change in cash flow was sufficient for the threshold determination of entitlement to compensation. View "Department of Transportation v. Presidio Performing Arts Foundation" on Justia Law

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Contreras sued her landlords (Butterworth) and the Butterworths’ former attorneys based on their allegedly illegal entries into Contreras’s apartment. After attorney Dowling began representing the Butterworths, Contreras named him as a defendant. The trial court denied Dowling’s special motion to strike, ruling that Contreras’s action did not arise out of protected activity because she sought to hold him liable not for his activities as an attorney, but only for the underlying wrongful conduct of the Butterworths. Relying on opinions in the two prior appeals of the case, the court found Contreras had established a probability of prevailing on the merits. Finding Dowling’s motion frivolous, the granted Contreras’s motion for sanctions. The court of appeal reversed. Contreras’s claim against Dowling arises out of protected activity because the only actions Dowling himself is alleged to have taken are communicative acts by an attorney representing clients in litigation. Such acts are protected by Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16. Bare allegations of aiding and abetting or conspiracy do not suffice to remove such acts from the statute's protection. Contreras cannot demonstrate a probability of prevailing on the merits because Dowling’s communicative acts are within the scope of the litigation privilege codified in Civil Code section 47(b). View "Contreras v. Dowling" on Justia Law

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In 2011, the Hjelms leased an apartment in a large San Mateo complex from Prometheus. They signed the 24-page lease while still living in another state and without any negotiation. The lease had three one-sided provisions allowing Prometheus to recover attorney fees. Their apartment became infested with bedbugs, and the complex had an ongoing raw sewage problem. Ultimately the Hjelms and their children were forced to leave. The Hjelms sued Prometheus; a jury returned a verdict for them, awarding economic damage to the Hjelms in the amount of $11,652; non-economic damage to Christine Hjelm of $35,000; and non-economic damage to Justin Hjelm of $25,000. The trial court then awarded the Hjelms their attorney fees ($326, 475) based on Civil Code section 1717. The court of appeal affirmed, noting that a one-sided attorney’s fee provision violates Civil Code 1717(a). No challenge to the verdict could succeed and section 1717 does apply. View "Hjelm v. Prometheus Real Estate Grp., Inc." on Justia Law