Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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In February 2015, Johnson’s landlord under the Housing and Community Development Act Section 8 housing assistance program (42 U.S.C. 1437f(o)) served a “lease violation notice” informing Johnson that she had violated her lease by following another tenant to his apartment and using profanity. In June 2015, Landlord issued a “notice to cease” stating that management had received a complaint from a resident alleging that she had used pepper spray against him. On February 29, 2016, Landlord served a “ninety-day notice of termination of tenancy.” In June, when Johnson failed to vacate, Landlord filed an unlawful detainer action. In August, the action was settled by a stipulation; Landlord agreed to reinstate Johnson’s tenancy on the condition that she conform her conduct to the lease. Landlord retained the right to apply for entry of judgment based on specified evidence of breach. In October, Landlord applied for entry of judgment, claiming that Johnson violated the stipulation. Johnson was evicted in January 2017. In February, the Oakland Housing Authority, which administers the Section 8 program, terminated Johnson's benefits. The court of appeal found no violation of Johnson’s procedural due process rights in terminating her from the program. Johnson was given sufficient notice of the grounds for termination: she failed to supply the Authority with required eviction documentation; she committed and was evicted for serious repeated lease violations. The hearing officer did not abuse its discretion in refusing to excuse the violation. View "Johnson v. Housing Authority of City of Oakland" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-borrowers Thaddeus Potocki and Kelly Davenport sued Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and several other defendants (collectively, “Wells Fargo”) arising out of plaintiffs’ attempts to get a loan modification. The trial court sustained Wells Fargo’s demurrer to the third amended complaint without leave to amend. On appeal, plaintiffs argued: (1) a forbearance agreement obligated Wells Fargo to modify their loan; (2) the trial court erred in finding Wells Fargo owed no duty of care; (3) Wells Fargo’s denial of a loan modification was not sufficiently detailed to satisfy Civil Code section 2923.61; and (4) a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress was sufficiently pled. The Court of Appeal determined plaintiffs’ third contention had merit, and reversed judgment of dismissal, vacated the order sustaining the demurrer insofar as it dismissed the claim for a violation of section 2923.6, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Potocki v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Wells Fargo in tort for negligent mortgage modification and other claims. The trial court sustained Wells Fargo's demurrer, partly because Wells Fargo did not owe plaintiff a duty in tort during contract negotiation. The Court of Appeal held that no tort duty exists during contract negotiations for mortgage modification. Therefore, the court affirmed the trial court's judgment, finding that the majority of other states are against it, and the most recent Restatement counsels against this extension because other bodies of law—breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, promissory estoppel, fraud, and so forth—are better suited to handle contract negotiation issues. View "Sheen v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit seeking to quiet title to two claimed easements within residential gated communities in which plaintiff has no ownership interest. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's judgment in favor of plaintiff and held that the trial court erred by finding that the individual homeowners in the gated community were not indispensable parties to plaintiff's lawsuit, but nonetheless were bound by the judgment; by finding an express easement over all the private streets of Indian Springs; by providing an express easement or, alternatively, a prescriptive easement; by failing to make the necessary findings to support an equitable easement; and by determining that the Lenope property benefited plaintiff's ranch. Therefore, the court held that there were no enforceable easements over the private streets of the community, or over the Lenope roadway, and thus there was no basis for an award of damages or an injunction against any of the defendants, and no basis for the award of attorney fees. Furthermore, plaintiff's claims for nuisance, declaratory relief, and intentional interference with contractual relations also failed. View "Ranch at the Falls LLC v. O'Neal" on Justia Law

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Appellants petitioned the Commission to revoke a coastal development permit (CDP), alleging that MVF's CDP application contained intentional misrepresentations regarding approvals it received from the Los Angeles County Environmental Review Board (ERB), the California Water Resources Control Board (Water Board), and the California Department of Fish and Game (Fish and Game). After the Commission denied the petition, appellants petitioned the superior court for a writ of administrative mandate to set aside the Commission's decision. The Court of Appeal affirmed the superior court's denial of the petition and held that substantial evidence supported the Commission's determination that accurate or complete information would not have caused the Commission to act differently in ruling on MVF's CDP application. In this case, the Commission correctly interpreted and applied section 13105, subdivision (a), and substantial evidence supported the Commission's determination that although MVF's application contained intentional misrepresentations regarding the approvals by the ERB, Fish and Game, and the Water Board, the Commission would not have imposed additional conditions or denied the CDP if accurate information had been provided. View "Hubbard v. Coastal Commission" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed petitions for writs of administrative mandamus and sought declaratory relief requesting a finding that the Board was equitably estopped from asserting that rental properties were subject to rent control. The trial court granted the petitions and the requested declaratory relief. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred by applying equitable estoppel to require the Board to act beyond its statutory authority and in contravention of the Rent Control Law. The court also held that the Board did not revoke or modify the removal permits; the doctrine that an administrative agency may not reopen or reconsider a prior decision did not compel affirmance; and a landlord's entitlement to a constitutionally fair return was not affected by the Board's interpretation of section 1803(t) of the Santa Monica City Charter, article XVIII. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "1041 20th Street v. Santa Monica Rent Control Bd." on Justia Law

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HERO appealed the trial court's denial of their petition for writ of mandate, seeking to set aside actions taken by the City in approving a proposal by the owner to convert a vacant 18-unit apartment building into a boutique hotel. At issue was whether the City erred in failing to prepare an environmental impact report (EIR) to assess the loss of affordable housing and displacement of tenants that would result from the conversion of the former apartment building into a hotel. The Court of Appeal held that there were no housing-related impacts or displacement of tenants for the City to address in an EIR, because the building at issue had been withdrawn from the rental market years before the City commenced environmental review for the hotel project. The court also rejected HERO's other contentions and affirmed the judgment. View "Hollywoodians Encouraging Rental Opportunities v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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Williams, a musician, sued the Fremont Corners Shopping Center for negligence and premises liability after he was assaulted in its parking lot at about 1:30 a.m after performing in the Peacock Lounge in the shopping center. Fremont and Peacock asserted they were not aware of prior similar incidents; the shopping center had lighting and security cameras. Williams responded by offering records of service calls from the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, showing five calls for service to Fremont in the preceding year, including police reports of a simple assault, a battery with serious bodily injury, and a physical altercation with an unknown suspect, which resulted in the victim suffering a broken jaw. The court of appeal affirmed summary judgment in favor of Fremont. The landowner had no duty to take affirmative measures, beyond those in the record, to discover criminal activity on the premises. Williams could not support his allegations that the assault was reasonably foreseeable. The evidence demonstrated that the owner was generally aware of the possibility of fights erupting at or near Peacock but a general knowledge of the possibility of violent criminal conduct is not in itself enough to create a duty under California law, Williams has not asserted what measures Fremont should have taken to prevent the harm that he endured. View "Williams v. Fremont Corners, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment in favor of defendants in an action involving proceeds awarded to its tenants as part of an eminent domain proceeding. The court rejected plaintiff's contention that the lease condemnation clause gave it the exclusive right to recover all moneys from any condemnation of the property and held that neither the language in the form lease nor plaintiff's arguments gave the court reason to read the lease language more expansively or as counter to Code of Civil Procedure section 1263.510. The court also held that the trial court did not err by applying the doctrine of collateral estoppel to plaintiff's claims to moneys awarded to tenants in LAUSD's eminent domain proceeding. View "Thee Aguila, Inc. v. Century Law Group" on Justia Law

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January 13, 2017, a Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department engineer inspected respondent’s property and observed inadequate and unpermitted retaining walls, one of which directed water to a single point directly above a failed 25-foot bank that had deposited five cubic yards of earth onto Riverview Drive. Unpermitted grading and terracing had contributed to bank failure and deposit of material into a nearby watercourse. On January 19, a rainstorm caused a four-foot wall of mud to slide onto Riverview Drive. Respondent moved earthen materials from the road, resulting in the runoff of materials into a local stream and on neighboring private property. Respondent believed his actions either did not require permits or were emergency measures. Respondent failed to comply with an administrative order requiring him to abate the code violations and pay abatement costs and civil penalties. Sonoma County filed suit. Respondent did not file a responsive pleading. The court entered a default judgment that ordered penalties significantly lower than ordered by the administrative hearing officer. The court of appeal reversed the order imposing civil penalties at the rate of $20 per day and directed the court to modify its judgment to require payment at $45 per day. That provision of the court’s order altered a final administrative order, was entirely unexplained, and provided respondent with a windfall he did not request. View "County of Sonoma v. Gustely" on Justia Law