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Renter’s rights if property under Los Angeles Rent Stabilization is sold at auction.

Los Angeles, CA |

Property is a corner lot, a duplex on one corner, small house on opposite corner. One duplex is empty. I’ve lived in small house 15 years. I'm age 61.

A person representing himself as a realtor came to my home and says the properties may sell at auction. If property is sold then the new owner will stop by and I should forward him/her the rents. Questions:

If realtor or new owner comes to my unit, should I request something in writing showing units were sold at auction?

If the new owner wants to occupy my small house, can I be evicted? Can I move into the empty duplex?

Does it make a difference if new owner is private owner versus a bank?

If I have to move, am I eligible for rent relocation from the new owner or bank?

Attorney Answers 2


The Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) protects tenants from arbitrary evictions and permits only twelve legal reasons for eviction. Lenders and their agents violate the RSO when they attempt to evict tenants on the basis of foreclosure or in anticipation of the sale of the property. The sale or foreclosure of a residential rental property is NOT one of the twelve legal reasons for eviction under the RSO.

If a tenant is residing in a Los Angeles City rent-controlled unit with "just cause" eviction protections, the tenant cannot be forced to leave just because the landlord sold the building or lost it in foreclosure. Note of course that as the tenant, you must still continue to pay rent on time.

Under the RSO, tenants evicted for "no fault" reasons (which includes a foreclosure) are entitled to relocation assistance of at least $7,300 if the tenant resided in the unit for less than 3 years, and $9,650 if the tenant has resided in the unit for 3 years or more. If the rental unit is occupied by a qualified tenant (senior citizen, disabled adult, or dependent child), the qualified tenant is entitled to $15,500 if the qualified tenant resided in the unit for less than 3 years, and $18,300 if the tenant has resided in the unit for 3 years or more.

It might make a difference if the new owner is a private owner versus a bank. A lower amount of relocation assistance is required for "mom and pop" properties (4 units or less) where the owner is seeking to occupy the premises, or to move in a resident manager and the owner does not own any other tenant occupied structures. If so, eligible tenants are only entitled to $7,000 and a qualified tenants are only entitled to $14,000 in relocation assistance.

In conclusion, if the new owner/lender opts to evict the existing tenants, the foreclosing owner/lender must still provide the tenant with 90 days written notice. But in addition, the foreclosing owner/lender must also pay the existing tenants any required relocation assistance within 15 days of being served the eviction notice.

By the way, the Los Angeles City Council voted to extend the ban on banks and other lending institutions from evicting a tenant in a foreclosed property (even a single family residence) through December 31, 2011, but here is a foreclosure eviction memorandum on this topic that you can use to show the realtor and/or new owner about the basic law:

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The sale of the property, at auction or otherwise, does not change your rights. If you are in a rent-controlled unit, you may only be evicted for cause, for one of 13 reasons. One of those legal reasons is if the owner wants to move in. HOWEVER, If the new owner wants to move in, he has to hold the property in his own name (and not in an LLC or other business form), and he must own at least 25% of the property.

The new owner will not be able to evict you for owner-move-in if there is another vacant and available unit on the property. Also, hope your birthday is soon. If you are 62 years old and have lived in your unit for more than 10 years, you may NOT be evicted, even if the owner wants to move into your unit, and even if there is no other vacant unit. You are protected. See Los Angeles Municipal Code section 151.30 D.

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