Real Property Law

CALIFORNIA CASE SUMMARY UPDATE: November 2023 Real Property Case Summaries

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By: Monty McIntyre, Esq.

Monty McIntyre

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Monty publishes California Case Summaries™, with one-paragraph summaries, organized by legal topic, of every new civil case published each month, quarter and year in California, giving subscribers a competitive advantage and excellent results.
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CALIFORNIA COURTS OF APPEAL

Landlord – Tenant

Duncan v. Kihagi (2023) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2023 WL 6887149: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order denying defendants’ motion to vacate a judgment in favor of plaintiffs, following a jury trial, in the sum of $2.7 million. The jury concluded that defendants harassed and unlawfully evicted plaintiffs, their tenants, from a rent-controlled apartment. The Court of Appeal rejected defendants’ argument, based upon the primary right theory, that plaintiffs were barred from seeking affirmative relief in their action and the judgment was void because plaintiffs did not seek affirmative relief in the unlawful detainer action. Unlawful detainer actions are summary in character and ordinarily only claims bearing directly upon the right of immediate possession are cognizable. Because plaintiffs, who were sued for unlawful detainer, surrendered possession, they could seek affirmative relief that would not have otherwise been available in an unlawful detainer proceeding. (C.A. 1st, October 19, 2023.) 

Homeward Opportunities Fund I Trust 2019-2 v. Taptelis (2023) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2023 WL 6631984: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s unlawful detainer judgment entered against defendant following a bench trial. Plaintiff purchased real property in a nonjudicial foreclosure sale under defendant’s deed of trust. A new owner must perfect title under the sale before seeking to evict the trustor/borrower. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1161a, subd. (b)(3); Dr. Leevil, LLC v. Westlake Health Care Center (2018) 6 Cal.5th 474.) Typically, the recording of a trustee’s deed is sufficient to raise a conclusive presumption of title under the sale as to a bona fide purchaser for value without notice (Civ. Code, § 2924(c)). However, in this case plaintiff purchased the real property subject to defendant’s duly recorded lis pendens regarding his pending wrongful foreclosure action. Plaintiff thereafter served defendant with notice to quit the premises and obtained a judgment of unlawful detainer against him, without first expunging the lis pendens. Because the lis pendens clouded plaintiff’s title under the sale, the trial court erred in denying defendant the opportunity to assert the lis pendens in the unlawful detainer trial as a defense to plaintiff’s claim of title. (C.A. 6th, October 12, 2023.)

Land Use

Snowball West Investments v. City of Los Angeles (2023) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2023 WL 7034030: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s denial of a petition for writ of mandate seeking to overturn respondent’s denial of petitioner’s zone change request regarding a proposed a housing project consisting of 215 homes in the Sunland/Tujunga area of the City of Los Angeles. The current zoning for the site was RA and A1; and the project had to be rezoned to RD5 and R1 for the project to move forward. Respondent denied the zone change request, stating that more information was needed before building homes in a high wildfire hazard area. Petitioner argued that under the rezoning exemption in the Housing Accountability Act (HAA; Government Code section 65589.5(j)(4)), its project was exempt from the need for a zone change. The Court of Appeal concluded that the zoning was consistent based on the language of the general plan, and therefore section 65589.5(j)(4) did not exempt the project from the requirement of a zone change. In addition, respondent’s findings were sufficient and were supported by substantial evidence. (C.A. 2nd, October 26, 2023.)

Yes In My Back Yard v. City of Culver City (2023) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2023 WL 7101272: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order granting a writ petition declaring void respondent’s adoption of Ordinance No. 2020-010 (the Ordinance), which amended respondent’s zoning code, changing development standards in its single-family residential

(R-1) zone, including reducing the allowable floor area ratio for primary residences from .60 to .45, decreasing the square footage of a house that could be built on a lot. The trial court properly granted the writ petition because the Ordinance violated section 66300(b)(1)(A) of the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 (the Act; Government Code section 66300 et seq.) which prohibits cities from (1) enacting any policy that changes the zoning of parcels to “a less intensive use” or (2) “reducing the intensity of land use” within a zoning district to below what was allowed under zoning ordinances in effect on January 1, 2018. The trial court also properly awarded petitioners attorney fees of $131,813.58 pursuant to the private attorney general fee statute in Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5. (C.A. 2nd, October 27, 2023.)


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