Real Property Law

Real Property Case Summary Updates

February 2021

By Monty McIntyre

Check out Monty McIntyre’s new FREE feature, Monty’s Case Commentary, where he discusses interesting newly published cases. This is in audio MP3 format, so you can listen to it whenever and wherever they want to. Here is the link.

California Case Summaries™ (https://cacasesummaries.com)

Monty A. McIntyre, Esq. is the publisher of California Case Summaries™ which provides short summaries, organized by legal topic, of every new published civil and family law case helping California lawyers easily keep up with the new case law and fight for their clients. Monthly, quarterly and annual single-user and discounted multi-user subscriptions are available. Monty has been a California civil trial lawyer since 1980, a member of ABOTA since 1995. Monty is an expert in using Zoom to conduct mediations, arbitrations and reference matters. He works as a full-time mediator, arbitrator and referee with ADR Services, Inc. (ADR) working with attorneys and their clients throughout California.    

CALIFORNIA COURTS OF APPEAL

Landlord-Tenant

Lee v. Kotyluk (2021) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2021 WL 62274: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order granting defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, but reversed its order denying plaintiff’s request to amend the complaint for unlawful detainer regarding a commercial lease. The case raised issues of first impression regarding whether a three-day notice under Code of Civil Procedure section 1161(3) was defective because it was issued before plaintiffs became the owners of the property, or was defective because it failed to identify the party to whom defendant could return possession of the property. The Court of Appeal held that a property owner can file an unlawful detainer action under section 1161(3) based on a notice served by its predecessor in interest. It also held that a notice under section 1161(3) does not need to identify the person to whom the tenant can turn over possession of the property if the tenant chooses to quit. The trial court properly granted the motion seeking judgment on the pleadings because nothing in the complaint or its attachments indicated that the prior owner, rather than plaintiffs, served the three-day notice. But the trial court abused its discretion by denying plaintiffs leave to amend to add this allegation. (C.A. 4th, January 7, 2021.)

Real Property

Decea v. County of Ventura (2021) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2021 WL 140758: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order dismissing, on the basis of laches, a petition to exclude petitioner’s property from a 1974 map under the Subdivision Map Act (Government Code, section 66410), which also sought to restore historical lot lines. Petitioner’s house sat within “Parcel A” on a map recorded by a former owner in 1974. The 1974 map also included historical lot lines from a subdivision map recorded by the original developers in 1923. Parcel A overlaid three of these historical lots and parts of two others and they totaled 1.04 acres. In 2017, appellant sought to reconfigure Parcel A into two half-acre lots but the County Surveyor told him Parcel A consisted of one legal lot, not five, which meant that petitioner could not subdivide the property without falling below the area’s one-acre minimum lot size. The Court of Appeal ruled that substantial evidence supported the trial court’s decision on laches. Substantial evidence supported the finding that a deceased former owner of the property, Jack Speirs, knew the 1974 map contained at least one error he could fix by submitting a corrected parcel map, but he did not do this. As the trial court observed, the testimony of Speirs and his contemporaries “would have been highly probative” to the issues raised in the petition. The loss of this testimony thus constituted substantial evidence of prejudice. (C.A. 2nd, January 15, 2021.)

Self v. Cher-AE Heights Indian Community etc. (2021) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2021 WL 248813: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order quashing service of process and dismissing plaintiffs’ complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Defendant Indian tribe’s sovereign immunity barred a quiet title action to establish a public easement for coastal access on property purchased and owned by defendant tribe. (C.A. 1st, January 26, 2021.)

Southern California School of Theology v. Claremont Graduate Univ.(2021) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2021 WL 221960: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s judgment for plaintiff, following a bench trial, in an action to quiet title against defendants and to declare that two conditions subsequent, an Educational Use Clause and a First Offer Clause, contained in a 1957 grant deed had expired pursuant to the Marketable Record Title Act (MRTA; Civil Code, section 880.020 et seq.). The trial court concluded that both clauses had expired on January 1, 1988 by operation of the MRTA, both clauses were equitable servitudes enforceable by injunction under the MRTA, but it concluded that the First Offer Clause was unenforceable as drafted because it would be inequitable and would effect a forfeiture on plaintiff of as much as $36 million, the difference between the purchase price calculation in 1957 and the current fair market value of the property. The Court of Appeal disagreed, ruling that the facts of the case did not support application of the doctrine of changed conditions. Increases in property value alone do not constitute changed conditions sufficient to invalidate otherwise enforceable equitable servitudes. It concluded that enforcing the First Offer Clause as written would operate no forfeiture to either party. (C.A. 2nd, January 22, 2021.)

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