Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in California

I live in Los Angeles, CA. My husband and I rented a single family home in 2014 for a 2 year fixed term. In 2016, we renewed the lease for an additional 12 months, to expire June 30, 2017. In late 2016, my husband asked the landlord if he would be open to selling us the property. The landlord said no because he and his family planned on moving back in at the end of our lease. My husband asked him several more times if he was sure he wasn't interested in selling us the house, if he would at least be willing to extend our lease, if he would let us stay if the rent was increased...all requests were rejected, with the landlord reiterating that they were moving back in.

We moved out on June 30th and we just found out that the property was sold. It was posted on Zillow for sale on July 10th but the posting also shows that it was sold on July 10th.

I believe the landlord knew all along that he was selling the house and I believe the sale was negotiated prior to us vacating.

My questions are: Why did they conceal the fact that they were selling it from us? Did they have to provide us with notice of their intent to sell and, by failing to do so, did we have the right to renew our lease? If so, do you think I can assert a claim for the difference in rent that we're paying for the place we moved to and what we would have paid had we remained at that property?

As the current tenants, did we have some statutory right of first refusal to purchase the property??

If they decided not to sell it to us because we don't share the same religion/culture as them, do we have a discrimination claim against them?

I feel like the landlord is aware of some law that we're not aware of and I'm trying to figure out what the issue is here. Something is up!

Thanks so much for any insight you can provide.

Asked on 7/25/17, 11:44 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Haapala, Thompson & Abern, LLP

I'm afraid there is no law-based reason I can imagine for your landlord's conduct. He acted completely within his legal rights, but why he did what he did the way he did it is not based on any legal principles or laws. The only explanation I can think of is maybe moving his family into the house involved a transfer of title to a family member? Not all Zillow "sales" are arms length open market sales, and may not even be a sale at all but rather a gift, or some other transfer of title.

If you have evidence that they refused to sell to you for racial, religious or other "protected class" reason, then you would have a discrimination claim, but coming up with that evidence would be a challenge. You had no right of first refusal unless it was in your lease.

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Answered on 7/25/17, 12:45 pm

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