Author: Staff

The California Civil Code regulates the types of terms that a residential lease can include, and states that public policy renders certain provisions void. A recent ruling by the California Court of Appeals, Second District in Williams v. 3620 W. 102nd Street, Inc. held that an arbitration clause in a residential lease is unenforceable based on public policy. California real estate investors considering investments in residential properties should be aware of how California law can affect their rights and limit the types of provisions they may include in lease agreements. This includes a legal requirement that residential tenants have access to the courts.

Williams v. 3620 W. 102nd Street, Inc.

Arbitration Clauses in Contracts

Arbitration is a type of alternative dispute resolution in which a neutral third party, the arbitrator, reviews the arguments and evidence of each side of a dispute. The arbitrator then makes a recommendation or ruling. If the parties agreed in advance to binding arbitration, then the arbitrator’s decision is final. Otherwise, the arbitrator’s ruling is more like a recommendation that neither party is obligated to accept.

The main benefits of arbitration are that the process tends to be much faster and less expensive than taking a case to trial. While a court might not have room on their docket for months or longer, an arbitrator could hear the case much sooner. This saves both parties time and the cost of protracted litigation.

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Author: Katie Conroy is the creator of Advice Mine. She enjoys writing about lifestyle topics and sharing advice she has learned through experience, education and research.

Investing in real estate is a great opportunity to begin your investment portfolio or add to your existing one. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can end up getting into a serious financial mess. For example, buying a property on a whim or without having the necessary information can result in much more money and work than you bargained for, at which point it’s more of a burden than an opportunity.

That’s why it’s important to learn as much as you can about real estate investment and to have a basic understanding of what it’s like to manage a property. If you’re considering purchasing your first rental property, consider these tips before you make any big decisions.

Author: Natalie Jones

Natalie and her husband found the homebuying process to be incredibly overwhelming, but definitely a learning experience. Natalie hopes to help other first-time buyers by sharing her knowledge through

Your home should be somewhere you feel comfortable. It certainly shouldn’t exacerbate any of your health conditions or affect your overall wellness. Fortunately, even if you’re on a budget, there are a few changes you can make to your home that will keep your physical and mental health in peak condition.

Author: Suzie Wilson

Suzie Wilson is an interior designer with more than 20 years experience. What started as a hobby (and often, a favor to friends) turned into a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes of every size and style. While her goal always includes making homes look beautiful, her true focus is on fashioning them into serene, stress-free environments that inspire tranquility in all who enter. Ms. Wilson’s mission with is to offer you insight into how to turn your home into a sanctuary that you’ll not only be happy to come home to, but will actually make you feel better when you’re there.

It’s no secret that, statistically, more homes are sold in the spring and summer months than other times of the year, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from putting your home on the market in the fall and winter. In fact, you might be able to sell your home even quicker in the colder months. When the weather is warm, the market is saturated with homes and it can take serious effort to make your home stand out. With less competition, you may be able to get more eyes on your property.


Author: Staff

The cost of housing is rising in many parts of California. Real estate investors view this as good news, of course, because higher property values and higher rent often mean greater returns on investments. The state government is seeking to balance property owners’ and tenants’ interests. It is hard to dispute that rising housing costs often outpace people’s earning capacities. Whether California’s new “rent control” law is the right way to address the problem, however, is likely to remain a contentious issue for some time. The new law caps annual rent increases and establishes additional standards for evictions. Prospective California real estate investors should be aware of how the new law could affect them.

What Is Rent Control?

The term “rent control” refers to laws that limit landlords’ authority to raise the rent and evict tenants in various situations. In California, rent control laws have existed for some time at the city and county levels in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and the Sacramento area. California’s new law, which will go into effect at the beginning of 2020, is the first such law to apply statewide.

New York City probably has the most well-known rent control law in the country. Television shows set in Manhattan often cite “rent control” to explain characters’ improbably-large apartment. Rent control laws can range from fixed ceilings on rent, with no further increases; to limits on how much a landlord may increase the rent from one time period to another. Most jurisdictions have laws that establish eviction procedures. Rent control laws may add further limitations on landlords’ authority to evict tenants.

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Author: Staff

Buying and selling real estate in California is a complicated machine with many moving parts. Everything must be in working order before the deal can close. Most problems that arise in the days or weeks leading up to a closing might cause the machine to sputter, but the parties involved in the transaction can set everything back in order. Some issues, though, can cause big enough problems that they delay the closing date—or derail it altogether. This could be a major problem that changes the nature of the deal for the buyer or seller, or it could be a small problem that simply goes unnoticed for too long. For California real estate investors, knowing how to adapt to unforeseen problems is just as important a skill as knowing how to identify and avoid problems in the first place.

Title Problems

In almost any real estate transaction that includes mortgage financing, the lender will require title insurance. The title company will conduct a search of the property’s title history to look for anything that might affect the buyer’s—and therefore the lender’s—interest in the property.

Any defect in title raises the possibility of some third party asserting their own interest in the property. Liens, which give creditors a non-possessory interest in real property, are a common type of title defect. Before a closing may proceed, all title defects must be resolved to the satisfaction of the title insurance company.

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Author: Staff

Investing in real estate in California, or anywhere, really, is risky, with potential liabilities extending beyond sunken costs. A business entity, such as a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC), can protect investors from liabilities associated with their investment. They can also protect the investment properties from unrelated issues in an investor’s personal life. A California real estate investor does not need to form a business entity in order to make an investment, but it can be useful. Understanding how, and when, forming a business can help is an important part of planning an investment.

Limited Liability of Investors

One of the primary purposes of business entities like corporations is the protection they offer owners against liability for business debts. It is such a central feature that it is part of the name of business forms like the LLC. An individual engaged in a business activity on their own, including real estate investment, is known as a sole proprietor. A group of individuals doing business together form a general partnership by default. In either case, the individuals are liable for any debts or other obligations arising from their business activities. Partners in a general partnership are jointly and severally liable for one another’s business activities.

California law governs the formation and operation of business entities within the state, and determines their limitations on liability. Shareholders in corporations, members of LLC’s, limited partners in limited partnerships, and owners of other business entities are not individually liable for anything arising from ordinary business activities undertaken through the business entity. This requires a strict separation of personal and business assets and activities. For example, if an investor sets up an LLC to manage their real estate investments, the LLC should have a separate bank account.

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Author: Staff

An apartment building can be a great investment for a California real estate investor, but it often requires a great deal of maintenance and attention. California law sets numerous standards and requirements for leased residential premises, particularly when a property includes multiple residences. These include ongoing responsibilities for maintenance and management of the property. Rather than duties owed to individual tenants, these are duties owed to all tenants as a group. Here, we offer a general overview for apartment building owners in California.

Minimum Standard of Habitability

A California landlord is bound by the implied warranty of habitability, which holds that a landlord, merely by offering an apartment for lease, is warranting that it is suitable for residential use. California law defines this duty in very general terms, requiring a landlord to “repair all deteriorations…occasioned by his want of ordinary care,” and to “put it into a condition fit for such occupation, and repair all subsequent dilapidations thereof.”

This implied warranty also means ensuring that the premises meet legal requirements under local building codes, state and federal laws regarding accessibility, and laws involving hazardous substances like lead paint. If a landlord fails to meet their obligations under this warranty, a tenant can get out of a lease by claiming constructive eviction.

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Author: Luke Wake

Luke Wake is an attorney for the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center—a Bona Law client. Luke and Jarod Bona have also published two law review articles together, on both takings and antitrust law. Luke is one of this nation’s leading experts on takings law. You can read some of his academic articles here.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued an important decision for property owners across the country. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion in Knick v. Township of Scott, which held that landowners are entitled to pursue just compensation in federal court when local or state law has effected a taking of private property. This is major development because takings cases were previously relegated to state courts where judges are sometimes viewed as hostile toward claims seeking compensation over local land use laws.

Knick explicitly overturned Williamson County Regional Planning Board v. Hamilton Bank from 1985. In Williamson County the Supreme Court ruled that one cannot bring a takings claim in federal court until after litigating in state court. But Williamson County was a trap for landowners because, in reality, there is no path to federal court after you have litigated a case in state court. Well established doctrines prevent a litigant from re-litigating issues that have already been decided. The Supreme Court ultimately made this clear in San Remo Hotel v. City and County of San Francisco, where the Court held that there was no way to preserve a federal takings claim if an owner seeks just compensation in state court.

Of course, landowners have always been allowed to pursue just compensation against the federal government for a taking. Those claims must generally be brought in the Court of Federal Claims in Washington D.C. But for claims seeking compensation against state or local restrictions, litigants were stuck in state court. And worse, some government defendants had played games with Williamson County—seeking to remove cases filed in state court to a federal forum, and then seeking dismissal on the ground that the claim had not been litigating in state court. Not all courts allowed those sort of shenanigans, but some did.

In overturning Williamson County, the Knick decision has made clear that property owners may vindicate their federal rights in federal court. That was already true with regard to every other federal claim one might have had against state or local actors. Enacted in the 19th Century by the Reconstruction Congress, U.S.C. Section 1983 has long provided that litigants may sue for a violation of federal rights in federal court. Moreover, if a litigant is successful in litigating a 1983 claim, they are entitled to attorney’s fees—which makes it easier for citizens to hold government accountable.

But Williamson County had assumed that special rules precluded takings claimants from proceeding under Section 1983. The Takings Clause prohibits the taking of private property without payment of just compensation; however, Williamson County concluded that this should be understood as requiring a litigant to pursue compensation in state court in order to have a ripened claim. Yet as groups like Cato Institute and National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center argued as amicus curiae before the U.S. Supreme Court in Knick, this sort of logic is perverse because it would also preclude litigants from vindicating other constitutional rights. The Supreme Court would never require a litigant to sue in state court in order to ripen a claim alleging that local or state actors had violated the Equal Protection Clause or the First Amendment. So why was the Takings Clause singled-out for special ripening rules?

Ultimately, Chief Justice Roberts concluded that the Court was confused in Williamson County because there really was no good reason for the “state litigation rule.” The constitutional text provides a straightforward guarantee against uncompensated takings—meaning that a litigant is entitled to pursue just compensation in court (either federal or state) if there is no administrative procedure for obtaining compensation owed. So, for example, if a local ordinance precludes all development opportunity without authorizing payment to affected owners, an owner is allowed to proceed in federal court.

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Real estate syndicates allow California real estate investors to pool funds to finance a project. This could be a new development or the refurbishing of an existing property. The person responsible for managing the project, and the investors’ money, is known as the syndicator. A syndicate may arise out of a group of investors looking for a project, or it may result from a developer seeking financing for a project from sources other than a bank. Before investing in a syndicate, investors should understand several important features.

What Is a Real Estate Syndicate?

A “real estate syndicate” is a business entity created to manage a property or project, and which seeks financing through investors. Several different business forms may be used for syndicates, such as a limited partnership (LP) or limited liability company (LLC), to protect investors against liability beyond the amount of their investment. Depending on the type of entity, the syndicator might be liable for the syndicate’s debts and other obligations.

A real estate syndicate differs from a real estate investment trust (REIT) in at least two important ways:
1. REITs typically manage large portfolios of properties, with the goal being longer-term holdings. A syndicate, on the other hand, might exist for the sole purpose of developing or improving a single property, with the intention of dissolving once the project is complete.
2. Investors can buy into an existing REIT and sell their shares without restriction. They tend to be more liquid. Syndicates may only allow investors to buy in at specific times.
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