Oakland Judge Gives Lender The Boot In Unlawful Detainer Action After Foreclosure; Says Ambiguous Eviction Notice = No Notice
In Oakland, California, BeyondChron reports:
- In a direct challenge to bank evictions of tenants across the state, Tenants Together is urging renters to contest foreclosure evictions. Pointing to a new ruling from an Alameda County Superior Court judge, Tenants Together argues that most post-foreclosure eviction notices issued to tenants are invalid under California law.
- A tenant in Oakland did exactly that. With assistance from the nonprofit East Bay Community Law Center, and in particular EBCLC attorney Jaime Arnone Modica, the tenant filed a motion to dismiss (called a demurrer) against an eviction lawsuit (called an unlawful detainer) commenced by Aurora Loan Services LLC. The tenant argued that the notice to quit was uncertain and confusing because it referenced several time frames and failed to unambiguously terminate tenancy at a particular time
.(1)The court agreed. On February 9, 2010, Judge Frank Roesch dismissed the case without leave to amend, meaning that the action terminated conclusively in favor of the tenant.
For more, see Judge Throws Out Bank Eviction (Calls into Question Validity of Evictions Across California).
(1) Reportedly, Marc Janowitz, the EBCLC staff attorney who argued the case before Judge Roesch, praised the ruling, noting that "an unclear eviction notice is an invalid eviction notice. It is not the tenant's job to figure out what the landlord is trying to tell them to do. We see a lot of these confusing notices after foreclosures. In my opinion, they are invalid, and apparently, the Court agreed."
Reportedly, after acquiring property through foreclosure, banks routinely serve a single notice upon all occupants of the property, reciting various timeframes, legal rights and requirements that apply differently depending on the type of occupant. Banks typically do not perform due diligence to determine whether the occupant resides as a tenant or former homeowner at the property, instead serving confusing notices designed to cover all possible situations.
According to the story, tenant advocates point out that California law encourages this gamesmanship by banks and their lawyers because tenants are afraid of the possible credit impacts of contesting these evictions in court. Under current law, unless the tenant wins within 60 days of the filing of the case, the bank's eviction action, even if totally invalid, can end up as part of the tenant's credit history, making it harder for tenants to find rental housing in the future, the story states.