I AM BEING EVICTED FROM MY OWN HOME!
Aside from finding that significant other in life, a good career, and health and happiness, a major dream for many is home ownership. As most of us are aware, barriers exist to ownership of a home, especially in Southern California. Common barriers are high prices and the inability to procure financing due to poor credit. Those who have poor credit and desire to own a home often resort to the use of a “straw buyer.” With a “straw buyer” arrangement, a third person procures financing and purchases the real property on behalf of a person with poor credit. The person with poor credit advances the down payment, agrees to pay the monthly mortgage, and provides some form of consideration to the “straw buyer.” Accordingly, the person with poor credit is an equitable owner. A frequent problem that arises in such an arrangement is the “straw buyer,” after taking title to property, denies the existence of the arrangement and seeks to evict the equitable owner on the basis that the equitable owner is merely a tenant. The “straw buyer” goes into the eviction court and obtains an eviction judgment against the equitable owner. For the equitable owner, what was once a dream realized becomes a nightmare. Fortunately, several ways exist to prevent this nightmare from occurring.
One way is to attack the eviction action through proving the non-existence of the landlord tenant relationship. Usually, circumstantial evidence can be found to show that a landlord-tenant relationship did not exist. For example, direct payments of the mortgage by the equitable owner to the lender can support the existence of a “straw buyer” arrangement and the non-existence of the landlord-tenant relationship. If the above can be shown, one has a greater chance of prevailing in an eviction action.
Another way is to prevent the matter from being heard in the eviction court. Since ownership is at issue, a quiet title action should be considered by the equitable owner against the “straw buyer.” Once the quiet title action is filed, a motion to consolidate the eviction action with the quiet title action may be made under CCP 1048(a), which authorizes consolidation of multiple actions that involve a common question of law or fact. If an order to consolidate is issued, then the eviction action is joined with the quiet title action and taken out of the eviction court.
An eviction action gives landlords a speedy “summary eviction” remedy. It is virtually the fastest civil trial proceeding. Accordingly, if you are one confronted with the above scenario, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Please note that this article is not legal advice and is not intended as legal advice. The article is intended to provide only general, non-specific legal information. This article is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. This article does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Kenneth U. Reyes, P.C. This article is not a solicitation.
Attorney Kenneth Ursua Reyes was President of the Philippine American Bar Association for 2005. He is a member of both the Family law section and Immigration law section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Mr. Reyes is a Certified Family Law Specialist. He is a graduate of Southwestern University Law School in Los Angeles and California State University, San Bernardino School of Business Administration. He has extensive CPA experience prior to law practice. LAW OFFICES OF KENNETH REYES, P.C. is located at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA, 90010. Tel. (213) 388-1611 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit at www.kenreyeslaw.com