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James Coy Driscoll
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James Driscoll’s Answers

738 total


  • How do I confirm my ownership on a property with a tax deed and collect rent on the property?

    I purchased a vacant lot via tax deed auction from the county tax collector. Currently, neighbors use it for parking. I'd like to collect rent for the use of the property for parking. How do I go about showing that I'm the legal owner with a ta...

    James’s Answer

    It may not be a simple as you think. You are talking about going into the business of running a parking lot. That means, among other things, that the land has to be zoned for that use. If not, you will have to apply to the Planning Dept. for a conditional use permit. Also, vacant lots tend to have a lot of random things in and on the dirt surface; many of these things can puncture tires. You may want to pave the lot (but get a permit from the Dept. of Building Inspection first).
    Speaking of harm to others and their property, regardless of whether you are charging for parking or not, you may be liable if someone is injured on your property. If a person were to step in a hole in the ground, fall and break his/her leg, you could be liable for that person's medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and inability to work in the future. You should have insurance to cover your liability. In addition, you should transfer ownership from you to an LLC (Limited Liability Company), to cap your financial exposure, should someone be inured on the property.
    You should talk with an experienced business attorney to discuss how to proceed with your parking lot business and to protect yourself form liability for accidents occurring on your property.

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  • If my friend moves because his apartment is being remodeled. Does he have the right to move back in?

    I have a friend who is moving because his apartment is being remodeled. Can he move back afterword? What if they do not let him back in?

    James’s Answer

    San Francisco has very strong tenants' rights laws. Your friend needs to make certain that he is not giving up his rights. He should speak with an experienced tenants' right lawyer immediately b

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  • I purchased a computer from a neighbor who let slip that he got it from a rent to own and had not made 1 payment am I at risk.

    I did not find this out till after I had purchased the computer , I have a sales receipt but do I own the computer or has he cheated me also . He has moved and told this to my brother on his way out.

    James’s Answer

    This is not a real estate question. Your situation could have criminal legal consequences for you. I am changing the practice area to criminal defense.

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  • Can service of process be done without filing a lawsuit - Minnesota?

    I am located in California. My (California) company is being sued in Minnesota for breach of contract. Yesterday, I was served with a summons and complaint that was not issued by the court (plaintiff's attorney signed the summons), not assigned ...

    James’s Answer

    For a definitive answer to your questions, you need to speak with a Minnesota lawyer. That said, I had a client in California once who was sued in Minnesota state court. I remember the summons complaint being served before being filed with the court. I have no idea what qualifies as valid service made out-of-state under Minnesota law. Therefore, I cannot speak to the validity of the the service of the summons and complaint you described.
    The main thing is to NOT ignore this matter. If you fail to act timely under Minnesota law, at best, you will pay thousands of dollars attempting to set aside a default entered against you; that is, to get back to where you were when you were served. However, your efforts to get the default set aside may be unsuccessful. That means that the plaintiff has a judgment against you that he can file in California and take your assets, without you ever being heard on the merits of the case. To protect yourself, talk with a Minnesota lawyer IMMEDIATELY.
    Regards

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  • Do I have rights being a lodger ,renting for 5 months with two toddlers, on being asked to move in short notice.

    I have been renting a room in a house for 5months. I have a 2 &3 yr old and pay rent every month on the 3rd. My roommate is not the owner of the home but is who I'm renting from. He verbally asked me to move a couple days ago by the 1st. Do I have...

    James’s Answer

    A verbal request or notice to move has no legal effect. A termination of a tenancy requires a 30-day WRITTEN notice, served in a manner permitted by law. If the notice is for a breach of the lease by the subtenant, a 3-day notice to fix the problem or move ("cure or quit") may be given. In either case, if the subtenant does not move, it is illegal for the person from whom the subtenant renting (or anyone else) to lock out the subtenant, remove the subtenant's things, or otherwise interfere with the subtenant living there. Self-help evictions are illegal in California. If a proper written notice is given and the subtenant has not moved out, the only s/he can be evicted is by the sheriff AFTER a lawsuit has been filed and the tenant losses the lawsuit.

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  • If I am being bought out of a house who pays the finalizing fees for the loan to buy me out.

    My brother and I both co-own a house he has had exclusive use of since 2009. When my grandfather died he was living with our grandfather and after he passed he continued living their with his family. Just recently his wife finally had the house ap...

    James’s Answer

    There is a substantial sum of money involved here. You should start with a real estate broker to get a general idea of the true value of the property and possibly hire an attorney and your own appraiser. In terms of what's fair, charging you $125K for an appraisal and closing costs, is grossly unfair.

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  • In the city of San Francisco, is our landlord required to pay hotel cost during plumbing repairs?

    We have a major water leak in the walls (water is seeping through the walls), which require opening up at least 1/3-1/2 of our baththroom walls to replace a leaking pipe and walls, as discussed by the landlord's plumber. The landlord has said, th...

    James’s Answer

    It is imperative that a negative pressure containment area be created around the area where the wall will be opened. Otherwise, asbestos, lead, and mold particles will likely contaminate your belongings (and you, if you are present when the work is being done). There are legal requirements regarding lead and asbestos testing that must be done before disturbing old walls in residences. You should immediately speak with an experienced tenants attorney regarding your rights.
    Regards

    James Coy Driscoll
    Attorney at Law

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  • Can a landlord return your rent, then file an Unlawful Detainer against you for non-payment of that rent?

    Raw sewage has been backing up onto my property and my landlord refuses to fix it. The city has issued multiple violations and the landlord still will not repair the plumbing. I paid my rent demanding the plumbing be fixed and the landlord retur...

    James’s Answer

    if there is an open notice of violation from the SF Dept of Building Inspection (DBI). It is illegal for the landlord to demand or accept rent for the unit. This is not something you can handle by yourself; contact an experienced San Francisco tenants' attorney to discuss your rights and your options.

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  • How much notice period is a subtenant legally entitled to from a tenant for evacuating a shared apartment in California, SF?

    I have lived in my current place for over 3 years now. I am a subtenant with no relationship to the landlord and pay the tenant half the monthly rent and all utilities which are equally split between us. I have not signed any official lease with e...

    James’s Answer

    If the unit is subject to the Rent Ordinance, the master tenant cannot evict a subtenant except for the Just Cause requirements in the Ordinance. There is a narrow exception to this rule if master gave the subtenant the proper written notice before the subtenant moved in.
    Regardless of whether the unit is subject to the Rent Ordinance, State law would require the master tenant to give the subtenant at least 60-days written notice (30-days if subtenant were there a year or less) terminating the subtenancy. If the subtenant did not move out, the master tenant would have to file an eviction lawsuit. Self-help evictions and lockouts are illegal.
    You should talk with an experienced tenants' attorney before making any decisions or agreeing to anything.

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  • Does a live-in nanny (compensated by room) has the same rights as a tenant to stay or leave when contract is terminated?

    I am planning to have a live-in nanny compensated by room and board. If the contract is terminated or breached, do I have to have to go through a regular tenant eviction process if she still stays regardless if I terminate the contract and give h...

    James’s Answer

    If you hire a live-in nanny, you are an employer. That means that wage and hour laws apply to your employment of the nanny. As an employer, you are required to keep track of his/her hours worked, PAY THE MINIMUM WAGE, give wage and deduction statements to the employee, and not deduct more from your employee's pay for food and lodging than is permitted under the law.
    Regardless of whether your nanny is a tenant to whom you would have to give at least 30-days written notice terminating his/her tenancy or a licensee to whom no advance notice is required to be given, if the person does not leave voluntarily, you MUST use the legal eviction procedures to have him/her evicted. It is illegal for you to do a self-help eviction by physically removing the person or their property or by locking him/her out.
    You should consult with a lawyer before beginning this process.

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