Help for Illegal L. A. Conversions, Construction & Real Estate Problems

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Real Estate & Evictions

How do You Strike Back

When a Real Estate Deal Goes Bad??!!

What happens when you buy a property and sometime later – perhaps months, maybe years later, you discover that there is unpermitted and/or illegal construction on it?

  • What do you do when you need to evict a tenant from an ILLEGAL or Unpermitted unit?
  • What happens if a tenant or a vendor slips and falls and injures his or herself on your property?
  • Or if you’re a commercial tenant and your landlord won’t fix something in your suite? 
  • Suppose you’re the landlord and your commercial tenant withholds his or her rent for some reason?

Since Southern California cities started to aggressively enforce their programs for building code compliance, these are the two BIGGEST areas of contention  I have seen over the past few years:

Evicting a Tenant from an Unpermitted Unit

Evicting a tenant from an illegal unit involves a difficult, complex and misunderstood area of law.  The good news is that it CAN be done . . .  but if it’s done wrong, it will be EXTREMELY costly for you, the property owner. 

For instance,  the Los Angeles Housing Department says that a landlord does not have to pay a tenant relocation fee is the unit is not subject to the rent control ordinance.  In regard to that, we deal with both the "letter of the law" as well as the "application of the law.

I have some very subtle ways to insure that the unit is NOT subject to rent control, which means NO tenant relocation fee - which means the landlords saves literally, thousands upon thousands of dollars.

It takes a lot of planning and legal strategy to do it right.

What you, as the property owner/landlord need to know is:

  1. If there are “normal” grounds to evict a tenant, can you do so?
  2. Can you evict a tenant from an illegal or unpermitted unit?
  3. Will it cost be anything to evict the tenant?
  4. How MUCH will it cost you?
  5. Other than legal fees (if any) when will costs have to be paid?
  6. What steps have to be taken?
  7. Are you under any time constraints?
  8. What happens if you don’t follow all the regulations?
  9. What are YOUR rights and obligations in this area?
In this world where tenants’ rights lawyers are springing up like weeds, it’s best not to give out nuggets that they may end up using against you.  Instead, I’ll mention some of the problems that come up for landlords in this area, particularly in the city of Los Angeles:
  • Are all your rental units registered with your local rent control authority?
  • Is your unit exempt from rent control?
  • If you have a single family dwelling, but MORE than one rental unit, which if any do you have to register?
  • What happens if you don’t comply with the provisions of your rent control ordinance?
  • Can you still evict tenants if a unit was built without permits?
  • What other crucial information do you need to know about in this area???
The bottom line is this:  As a landlord who wants to evict a tenant from an unpermitted unit, you HAVE to know your legal rights and obligations.  This is not an area of law that falls under a standard unlawful detainer.  Only a lawyer specializing in this area of law can properly assist you.

Selling/Buying Illegal or Unpermitted Units

This is a difficult and complex area of law.  It implicates the rights and responsibilities of the property seller, purchaser, and real estate brokers if they are involved.  What must be disclosed and when – and by whom?

It is not uncommon (at least not to me) for buyers of property to go after sellers, even if the sale occurred years ago, past what is the usual time for a legal cause of action to be enforced.  Statutes of limitation are laws that limit how much time one has to enforce their rights.  For instance, generally speaking, in California, a written contract must be enforced within four years of its making, and an oral contract with two years.  But of course, there are exceptions – which are very applicable for code compliance related cases.

Rarely will a buyer’s home inspector either know or be contractually bound to find and disclose illegal units.  The seller is required by law to provide the buyer with the information about the illegal condition. The seller liability (in California) says that if the seller knows about an illegal conversion, remodeling or addition, he or she is required to disclose this information in writing to the buyer.        

A common issue is that many times it is not possible to say clearly whether the seller knew beforehand when the illegal conversion, remodeling or addition was made. If it was built before his or her ownership of the property, they may not been informed of it, and due to this reason may be as surprised as the new buyer when he or she realizes about the possible illegal condition. In this case, it may be necessary to determine the approximate age of the addition (if possible), and from then on suggest any legal measure that could be taken based on the results of the analysis.

So in California, if you were the buyer and you have only recently learned of an illegal unit(s) on your property, I suggest that you give me a call.  You STILL have legal rights that can be enforced against the seller.  This is true no matter how long ago you purchased the property.

All of which begs the question:

How do you
strike BACK?? ?? ??!????


Hi, I'm Andy Baker. I've been serving Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley for the past 16 years as a real estate attorney.  I know how to help people in situations that are similar, or identical to yours.  I was a real estate agent in Los Angeles for over 13 years.  I was pretty familiar with real estate problems.  But it wasn't enough; legal issues kept cropping up.  In fact, I spent so much time on the phone with my real estate attorney that I decided to become one!  This combination of experience gives me a “real-world” perspective.  This allows me to resolve all of your real estate matters by crafting creative and pragmatic solutions.  

"I have been working in real estate for over 30 years, and have been relying on Andy Baker's advice for half that time.  He is very thorough, responds quickly, and keeps my stress down!"

Ron Lepp, Real Estate Management  Los Angeles, CA

I have been professionally assisting apartment owners and home owners in all kinds of situations for years.  I have run into many of the barriers that you can expect to run into, and many that you would never expect. I still get surprised by what can happen. Most situations seem straight-forward, but take unexpected turns.

For litigation (I know - the bane of a property owner’s existence), I try and negotiate settlements before disputes result in litigation. 

However, sometimes people won’t listen to reason, and a lawsuit results.  I both bring and defend litigation involving tenants, landlords, subtenants, licensees, property managers, and related parties of commercial, industrial and residential properties.  I provide assertive, yet thoughtful representation in the following areas:
  •     Breach of purchase and sale agreements
  •     Specific performance
  •     Non-disclosure, concealment and fraud actions
  •     Brokerage commission disputes
  •     Adverse possession
  •     Rights of way
I will protect your rights in mediation, arbitration and litigation regarding all of these kinds of issues.

Protecting Your Rights in Real Estate Law
On the transactional side of the ledger, I perform such tasks as:
  • Business formation and support for buyers of commercial real estate
  • Negotiating, drafting and review of purchase and sale agreements, construction contracts and other real estate documents
  • Reviewing and drafting commercial leases
  • Handling peripheral issues such as seller bankruptcy
  • Negotiating and drafting leases
  • Assignment, subleasing and occupancy issues
  • Landlord-tenant agreements
  • Lease renewals
  • Mechanic’s liens, stop notices and construction bonds

I could have (and once did have) a firm with a number of lawyers providing client services.  But I prefer an individualized client approach.

"I have known and worked with Andy Baker for years.  He is always prepared, and has the uncanny ability to see problems before they develop.  I always consult with Andy before I make a major  business decision and through the years he has saved me a bundle."
- Dan Cervenak, Daniel J Construction Consulting Services  Rancho Cascades, CA

After reading this, if you feel you need or want more help or expertise, please call me for your FREE telephone consultation where I will personally:
  •     Go over your facts, ask you questions, and review the papers you bring with you
  •     Explain your legal rights and your obligations
  •     Answer all of your questions
  •     Discuss my services with you
  •     Provide you with information to empower you
  •     And much, much more
Your conversation with me will last about 25 minutes, depending on the complexity of your case.  It can save thousands of dollars, plus substantial time and aggravation. It’s at least a $150.00 value, yet the consultation is 100% free, without obligation

To set up your free Consultation

or to ask me any of your questions

simply call me (Andy) at 818-620-6023

or email me at

I look forward to talking with you soon.

Andy Baker
22287 Mulholland Hwy, No. 131
Calabasas, CA 91302
Tel. (818) 620-6023

I help people arrange successful transactions, avoid costly consequences and resolve legal disputes.

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