Recently, the California Court of Appeal review a case involving a Purchase Agreement for the sale of real estate where the Buyer took possession of the real property prior to the close of escrow and escrow failed to close. Community Rebuild Partners, LLC v. Chanin affirms that the seller could evict the buyer when escrow failed to close.

The parties entered into a purchase agreement to sell residential property. As part of the purchase agreement, the Seller agreed that the Buyer could move into the property prior to escrow closing. Escrow was scheduled to be 180 days. Escrow failed to close, and the Buyers failed to vacate. Buyers filed a lawsuit for breach of contract and fraud. Seller filed an unlawful detainer after serving a three day notice to pay rent or quit. In response, Buyer filed a demurrer arguing that an unlawful detainer was improper and that the Seller would have to file a lawsuit for ejectment. The trial court agreed with the Buyer, and entered judgment for Buyer finding that there was no landlord-tenant relationship. Seller appealed.

Because unlawful detainers are created by statute, the requirements must be strictly complied with. The first requirement of any unlawful detainer is to show a landlord-tenant relationship. Here, the appellate court found that the Purchase Agreement, along with the Occupancy Agreement, created enough to show a landlord-tenant relationship. The Court did not state there was an actual landlord-tenant relationship, but found that at least at the pleading stage, Seller pled enough to show a landlord-tenant relationship.

The requirements of an unlawful detainer are strict, and who you can evict can sometimes be an issue with non-standard landlord-tenant relationships. Contact Attorney Anthony Marinaccio at 818-839-5220 to set up a consultation regarding an unlawful detainer.