Dli Properties LLC v. Hill, 091718 SUPAD, BV 032016

Docket Nº:BV 032016
Opinion Judge:RICHARDSON, J.
Party Name:DLI PROPERTIES LLC, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. CHEROKEE HILL, Defendant and Appellant.
Attorney:BASTA, Inc., Daniel J. Bramzon, Kevin Hermansen, Ross T. Kutach and Eric M. Post, for Defendant and Appellant. Nussbaum, Brandon S. Dimond and Lane M. Nussbaum, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
Judge Panel:We concur: P. McKay, P. J., Ricciardulli, J.
Case Date:September 17, 2018
Court:Superior Court of California
 
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DLI PROPERTIES LLC, Plaintiff and Respondent,

v.

CHEROKEE HILL, Defendant and Appellant.

BV 032016

Superior Court of California, Appellate Division, Los Angeles

September 17, 2018

Appeal from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County No. 16UA0882 Lancaster, Trial Judge Paul A. Bacigalupo. Affirmed.

BASTA, Inc., Daniel J. Bramzon, Kevin Hermansen, Ross T. Kutach and Eric M. Post, for Defendant and Appellant.

Nussbaum, Brandon S. Dimond and Lane M. Nussbaum, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

RICHARDSON, J.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff DLI Properties, LLC filed an unlawful detainer action against defendant Cherokee Hill after she failed to pay rent and defaulted on the parties' lease agreement. Defendant raised as an affirmative defense plaintiff's failure to comply with Civil Code section 1962's1 disclosure requirements. On appeal, defendant contends section 1962, subdivision (c), bars a “successor owner” from instituting eviction proceedings based on nonpayment of rent during the period of statutory noncompliance and, in her case, plaintiff did not make the required disclosures in the rental agreement. We determine that plaintiff was not a successor owner for purposes of subdivision (c) and affirm.

BACKGROUND2

Defendant moved into the subject property in 2011, when she entered into a rental agreement with the owners, Prince E. Cullum, Sr. and Bernice Leola Cullum. The Cullums lost the home to foreclosure, and the property was sold to plaintiff on September 8, 2015.

Plaintiff hired Strategic Property Management, Inc. (Strategic) to manage the property. On the date of the sale, Strategic and defendant executed a new rental agreement for the premises. In the written month-to-month rental agreement, “Strategic Property Management Inc.” was listed as “Landlord.” Defendant was directed to pay rent to “DLI Properties LLC” at “P.O. Box 1029 Agoura Hills, Ca 91376” (¶ 3). Regarding service of notices, defendant was directed to send notices to “Landlord: Strategic Property Management Inc [¶] P.O. Box 1029 [¶] Agoura Hills, Ca 91376” (¶ 36).

At the trial, Olinka Morales testified she was employed by Strategic to manage the property. She identified the rental lease agreement between Strategic and defendant noted above. During cross-examination, Morales stated that Fabiola Mendoza and Beverly Jacobo were also authorized to manage the property. She testified the business address for Strategic was not the post office box address listed in the rental agreement, but rather a street address.

Outside the presence of the jury, defendant moved for nonsuit, claiming the action was barred under section 1962, subdivision (c). Defendant argued section 1962 required the rental agreement to disclose certain information for effecting personal service, and the evidence presented in plaintiff's case-in-chief established lack of compliance. Plaintiff countered that section 1962 did not apply to the circumstances of this case. The court denied the motion.

Defendant testified Strategic became the “new landlord” in September 2015, and she had contacts and communications with it concerning habitability issues pertaining to the property. After the parties rested, defendant moved for a directed verdict based on plaintiff's failure to comply with section 1962. As before, plaintiff maintained the statute did not apply because it only implicated “successor owners” and, in this instance, the parties had executed a new lease. The court denied defendant's motion.

The jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff, finding plaintiff served a valid three-day notice and did not breach the warranty of habitability. Thereafter, defendant moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), once again arguing plaintiff had not complied with section 1962. The trial court denied the motion, stating, “The court finds that the owner, plaintiff, through its management agent complied with the Code under 1962 for purposes of notice.”

DISCUSSION

Defendant contends the court should have granted a nonsuit or issued a directed verdict in her favor, and the court erred in denying her JNOV motion. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 581c, 630, 629.)3

Motions for Nonsuit, Directed Verdict, and Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict

“While made at different times, the three motions are analytically the same and governed by the same rules. [Citation.] The function of these motions is to prevent the moving defendant from the necessity of undergoing any further exposure to legal liability when there is insufficient evidence for an adverse verdict. [Citation.] Put another way, the purpose of...

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