Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

City buying land my apartment sits on for new school

The city is buying the land that my apartment currently sits on to build a new school. I just moved in and have a 1 year lease that ends in February 2002. I am told that this is a forced sale of our building and we will have no choice but to move. What are my rights?

Does the city (or school District) have to pay for and arrange all of my moving expenses?

Find me a comperable place to live?

Pay rent difference if they cant locate something comperable in the same price?

Please help!

Asked on 7/13/01, 12:42 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

Re: City buying land my apartment sits on for new school

The law of eminent domain (condemnation for a public use) is very complex. I can only give you a thumbnail description here.

Essentially, tenants do have significant rights regarding a condemnation of the landlord's property. First, if the condemnation action will take the entire property, you are released from your obligation to pay rent, but the landlord gets the entire condemnation award (payment) from the condemning agency. If, on the other hand, the condemnation affects only a portion of your leasehold, your lease and obligation to pay rent remain in effect, but you are entitled to part of the compensation paid for the taking, and would be a party to the court proceeding to determine the amount of compensation and its division between landlord and tenant.

It sounds like this is a taking of the entire leasehold, so that terminates the lease and your obligations under it as of a date to be determined by the court overseeing the action.

The Government Code at section 7260 provides for relocation assistance to persons displaced because of the acquisition of real property by a public entity for public use. These provisions include moving expenses and additional payments to cover the replacement cost of a dwelling. I do not know to what extent these provisions would be helpful to a tenant with only a few months remaining on her lease, but I suggest you read the Code at your library or on-line. Either your landlord or the condemning agency should also be willing to advise you, but their interests are at least technically adverse to yours and you may need to consult a local attorney who could investigate and write a letter or two on your behalf.

Note also that in recent years there has been a trend, assisted by changes in the law, to encourage acquisition of property by agreement with the owner rather than through a formal condemnation action in court. If that is what is happening here, all the more reason your landlord should be in a position to tell you about your position and your rights.

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Answered on 7/14/01, 3:31 pm

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