Veiseh v. Stapp (2019): Defect in Transfer under Uniform Transfer to Minors Act Is No Impediment to Standing in Trespass Action

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In Veiseh v. Stapp, the Fifth District addressed a novel turn on an old rule – that the plaintiff in an action for trespass need not establish title, but is merely required to establish actual possession.

The plaintiff owned farmland, and though he used it for his own purposes, he attempted to transfer it to his ex-wife, for the benefit of their daughter, for estate planning purposes. However, the form of transfer implicated the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act, which required such assets to be held for the benefit of the transferee minor. Plaintiff’s transfer was defective, because he continued to use the property himself. The owner of the adjacent parcel leased to a cattle rancher, whose cattle grazed on plaintiff’s land, damaging it. Plaintiff sued for trespass.

The defendants moved for a bifurcated trial to first litigate the issue of standing. They argued that a trespass plaintiff was required to establish that he was in “lawful possession” of the trespassed land. Because the transfer violated the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act, the plaintiff was not the right plaintiff. The trial court agreed.

The Court of Appeals, however, noted the “well-settled proposition that the proper party plaintiff in an action for trespass to real property is the person in actual possession”. “The proper person to bring an action for trespass to real property is the person in actual possession. In the context of a trespass action, ‘possession’ is synonymous with ‘occupation’ and connotes a subjection of property to one’s will and control. We adopt this definition.”

While the term “lawful possession” is sometimes used to describe the trespass plaintiff’s status, the term “lawful” in this context merely means “not tortious”. The father’s occupation and possession was sufficient to maintain the action, and the Court of Appeal reversed with directions to litigate the second phase of the trial.

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Justin Goodman Featured in SF Apartment Magazine Legal Q&A for May 2019

Justin Goodman was featured in the Legal Q&A for the May 2019 issue of SF Apartment Magazine – the official publication of the San Francisco Apartment Association.

Justin explored various ways a landlord can impose limits on the number of occupants in a rental unit, even though San Francisco has made it more difficult over the years for landlords to enforce limitations in lease agreements.


SFAA is dedicated to educating, advocating for, and supporting the rental housing community so that its members operate ethically, fairly, and profitably. SFAA’s is a trade association whose main focus is to support rental owners by offering a wide variety of benefits that address all aspects of rental housing industry.

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Chun v. Del Cid (2019) – Second District Court of Appeal Interprets LA Municipal Code To Find “Rooming House” No Longer Exempt as “Single Family Home” from Eviction Protections

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In Chun v. Del Cid, a landlord of a single family home in Los Angeles served 60-day termination notices on multiple tenants who were leasing individual bedrooms in a single family home. The Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance generally exempts single family homes from eviction protections, and without LARSO eviction protections, a 60-day notice under state law can often be served at any time, for (almost) any reason.

The tenants defended an unlawful detainer lawsuit on the basis that their use of the property as a “rooming house” took the single family home out of the exemption. The trial court and appellate division disagreed, finding that the property was designed as a single family home: that is, a detached dwelling containing only one dwelling unit – a group of two or more rooms, one of which is a kitchen. The Court of Appeal granted review, evaluating several interlocking definitions under the LA municipal code to reach a different conclusion.
Continue reading Chun v. Del Cid (2019) – Second District Court of Appeal Interprets LA Municipal Code To Find “Rooming House” No Longer Exempt as “Single Family Home” from Eviction Protections

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California Supreme Court Grants Review To Consider Propriety of “Delta Motion” Following Split of Authority

The California Supreme Court has granted review in the case Stancil v. Superior Court (Redwood City), to finally weigh in on the infamous Delta Motion to quash service of summons.

In 1983, the Second District Court of Appeal held that a motion to quash service of summons was an appropriate way to challenge the ability of a complaint for unlawful detainer to state a cause of action. The case was Delta Imports v. Municipal Court (Missimer), which led to the eponymous “Delta Motion”. As the reasoning goes, an unlawful detainer case receives a unique five-day summons (rather than the conventional thirty-day summons). Defendants generally demurrer to a complaint for failure to state a cause of action, but ordinarily, the plaintiff survives general demurrer if the complaint states a cause of action for something, even if they got the label wrong. But if a complaint fails to state a cause of action for unlawful detainer, it can’t be amended to state something else, as the cause of action is created by service of the notice.

That’s all well and good, but a motion to quash challenges jurisdiction, and there are no jurisdictional facts at issue because a plaintiff “failed to state” something, provided the defendant was properly served with a summons. And while courts have some flexibility in ruling on an improperly labeled motion, the difference between a motion to quash and a demurrer is significant. Demurrers essentially test what’s within the four corners of a complaint, but a motion to quash is an evidentiary motion. And motions to quash in unlawful detainer cases can be heard on as little as three days’ notice. So, essentially, these motions became vehicles to have mini trials on the final merits of a case, but before a plaintiff could serve discovery. Then, many tenant practitioners routinely petitioned for writ of mandate, ostensibly to review the denial, but practically as a method of stalling a “summary proceeding” for many months. The doctrine was legally fascinating but it allowed procedural abuse.

In 2015, the Second District revisited its reasoning in the case Borsuk v. Appellate Division, disapproving of the rationale in Delta Imports and opening the rule for interpretation. After all, “A decision of a court of appeal is not binding in the courts of appeal. One district or division may refuse to follow a prior decision of a different district or division.” McCallum v. McCallum (1987) 190 Cal. App. 3d 308, 316 FN.4. In a split of authority, the “dilemma will endure until the Supreme Court resolves the conflict, or the Legislature clears up the uncertainty by legislation”. McCallum, supra, 190 Cal. App. 3d at 316 FN.4.

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Justin Goodman Featured in SF Apartment Magazine Legal Q&A for April 2019

Justin Goodman was featured in the Legal Q&A for the April 2019 issue of SF Apartment Magazine – the official publication of the San Francisco Apartment Association.

Section 37.9(e) of the Rent Ordinance prevents tenants from waiving rights under the Rent Ordinance (with limited exceptions). In the April SFAA Q&A, Justin explored options when a tenant induces a landlord to enter a lease with an unenforceable promise by the tenant to move out when the landlord is ready to move into their home.


SFAA is dedicated to educating, advocating for, and supporting the rental housing community so that its members operate ethically, fairly, and profitably. SFAA’s is a trade association whose main focus is to support rental owners by offering a wide variety of benefits that address all aspects of rental housing industry.

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Justin Goodman Featured in SF Apartment Magazine Legal Q&A for March 2019

Justin Goodman was featured in the Legal Q&A for the March 2019 issue of SF Apartment Magazine – the official publication of the San Francisco Apartment Association.

Justin explained the minefield of seeking to use non-residential space (like parking or storage) to construct an Accessory Dwelling Unit, when that space is already being used by a tenant.


SFAA is dedicated to educating, advocating for, and supporting the rental housing community so that its members operate ethically, fairly, and profitably. SFAA’s is a trade association whose main focus is to support rental owners by offering a wide variety of benefits that address all aspects of rental housing industry.

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Justin Goodman Featured in SF Apartment Magazine Legal Q&A for February 2019

Justin Goodman was featured in the Legal Q&A for the February 2019 issue of SF Apartment Magazine – the official publication of the San Francisco Apartment Association.

Justin navigated a landlord’s ability to enforce a lease and the law when a tenant unlawfully lists a room on a short term hosting platform. Hosting platforms have largely been unsuccessful in challenging residential unit conversion regulations in California, but many cities do allow registered use within reasonable limits. Landlords do their best to maintain their residential buildings as residential by considering multiple approaches to policing vacation rentals.


SFAA is dedicated to educating, advocating for, and supporting the rental housing community so that its members operate ethically, fairly, and profitably. SFAA’s is a trade association whose main focus is to support rental owners by offering a wide variety of benefits that address all aspects of rental housing industry.

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HomeAway.com, Inc.; Airbnb, Inc. v. City of Santa Monica – Ninth Circuit Rules Cities May Regulate Short-Term Hosting Platforms

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the City of Santa Monica is permitted to regulate hosting platforms, which it found “had negatively impacted the quality and character of its neighborhoods by bringing commercial activity and removing residential housing stock from the market at a time when California is already suffering from severe housing shortages”.

Santa Monica’s ordinance allowed licensed “home-sharing” but prohibited all other short-term rentals of 30 days or fewer. It requires platforms to (1) collect and remit “Transient Occupancy Taxes”, (2) disclose certain listing and booking information regularly, (3) refrain from completing any booking transaction for properties not licensed and listed on the City’s registry, and (4) refrain from collecting or receiving a fee for facilitating or providing services ancillary to a vacation rental or unregistered home-share. Platforms who comply receive safe harbor. (A similar safe harbor provision in San Francisco’s short-term rental ordinance led to settlement of a similar lawsuit in the Northern District of California. Here, the district court granted Santa Monica’s motion to dismiss, for failure to state a cause of action under federal law, including the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and the First Amendment.

The CDA provides internet companies with immunity from certain claims in furtherance of its stated policy to promote the continued development of the Internet and other interactive computer services, providing immunity to cases where “(1) a provider or user of an interactive computer service (2) whom a plaintiff seeks to treat, under a state law cause of action, as a publisher or speaker (3) of information provided by another information content provider”. The hosting platforms argued that the ordinance required them to monitor and remove third party content, in violate of the CDA. The Ninth Circuit, however, found that the ordinance did not try to treat them as publishers. It merely prohibits processing transactions for unregistered properties.

The hosting platforms also argued that they were protected by the First Amendment: even if the plain language of the Ordinance only reaches “conduct” (the booking of unlicensed properties), it effectively imposes a “content-based financial burden” on commercial speech and is thus subject to First Amendment scrutiny. The district court, however, found that the regulation affected conduct that lacked a “significant expressive element”, and the Ninth Circuit agreed.

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San Francisco Legislative Update (2019): Updated Abandoned Buildings Ordinance

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Ordinance 52-19 amends the Building Code’s previous abandoned building ordinance to extend its scope and accelerate its application.

Previously, the code defined a commercial storefront as “vacant or abandoned” if,

(1) it is unoccupied and unsecured;
(2) it is unoccupied and secured by boarding or other similar means;
(3) it is unoccupied and unsafe as defined in Section 102A of the Building Code;
(4) it is unoccupied and has multiple code violations; or
(5) it has been unoccupied for over 30 days.

Properties come outside of the definition of vacant or abandoned if the owner or lessee is actively seeking permits or authorization for a particular use, or if there is a permit for repair, rehabilitation, construction, etc. However, Ordinance 52-19 removes the existing exception where the property is being actively listed for lease or sale. It also requires payment of the registration fee upon registration (as opposed to the former rule: 270 days after it became vacant), and the owner must annually register and pay the fee.

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Residential Rent and Eviction Control Resources