Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

I am about to go in a rent to own agreement on a house I seen. Now the owner to the property is behind on his taxes on the house but hasn't defaulted yet. The property is still in good standing until April 12,2021 then he would be 3 years without paying taxes on it. Well the agreement is that if I were to pay the back due taxes on the property then he would be in agreement to rent to own to me. Of course I am paying a deposit along with application fee and pet deposit. My question is, would he be able to later on back out of the rent to own agreement and decide not to sell me the house later on? Also what are my rights if I do pay the back taxes on this house for him? Thank you in advance for your help.


Asked on 3/25/21, 6:13 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Haapala, Thompson & Abern, LLP

It is impossible to answer your question fully without seeing the rent to own agreement document and any other related documents. You should be aware, however, that most rent to own agreements allow the landlord/seller to back out under certain circumstances. You should also be aware that a house with unpaid taxes for two and a half years is NOT in good standing. Property taxes become due on July 1 of each year, and are subject to late fees if not paid in the December and April installments. They then are in actual default if not paid by 12:01 am July 1 of the following year. So this property has been in default for two years already. At year three it can be sold out from under you if the taxes are not paid and there is an abatement lien on the property, or five years at the latest. You only obtain ownership rights by paying taxes if you move into the property without the owner's consent and over their objection, and take other steps to perfect adverse possession, AND go to court to have title put in your name by virtue of adverse possession.

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Answered on 3/26/21, 11:09 am


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