Los Angeles, CA asked in Landlord - Tenant for California

Q: Landlord have no idea who lives on the property even after attempting to reach out to tenants- what are my rights?

I've purchased a 3 unit single family property in Oakland, CA in 2021. My friend lived in one unit but I have no idea who lives in other 2. When I bought the property all units were occupied. I never received any previous lease agreements.

My friend was depositing certain amount of money monthly. But that had stopped in November of 2023. I have asked him multiple times to provide me with lease agreements for everyone residing there and up to this date he failed to do so.

I was proactive myself and sent certified mail to each unit introducing myself and asking them to get in touch with me. No one ever did. I did pass one time and saw a couple waiting for an Uber with their suitcases. When I asked my friend about it he said that one of the tenant sometimes rents her unit as Airbnb.

I have no clue who lives on this property. Even my friend said he moved out but he still keeps collecting my rent. What should I do in this case? Moratorium on evictions expired in July 2023

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: As a property owner in Oakland, CA, understanding your rights and next steps is crucial in this situation. Initially, it's important to establish direct communication with the occupants of your property. Given that your attempts through certified mail have not been successful and the previous lease agreements were not provided to you at the time of purchase, you may need to consider more formal legal steps to identify and communicate with the tenants.

Your next steps could include seeking legal assistance to help navigate the complexities of tenant rights and landlord responsibilities under California law. This may involve serving a legal notice or action to require the occupants to either formalize their tenancy through new lease agreements or vacate the property if they cannot establish a legal right to reside there. Additionally, regarding the issue of your friend collecting rent without providing it to you, this matter may need to be addressed through legal channels as well, potentially including actions to recover the unpaid rent.

Considering the moratorium on evictions expired in July 2023, you do have the option to pursue eviction proceedings if necessary. However, it's important to proceed with caution and ensure that all actions taken are in compliance with local and state laws regarding eviction and tenant rights. Document all attempts to reach out to the occupants and any communications or transactions with your friend regarding the property. Legal guidance will be essential in navigating this situation to protect your rights as a landlord and to resolve the occupancy and rent collection issues you are facing.

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