California Homebuyers Discover that the Government Is Their Enemy

A nightmare facing a couple who purchased a home for cash perfectly illustrates why having the government over-involved in the rental market is a disaster even for people who never meant to lease their property but are plagued by a squatter.  A couple who bought a house in good faith now find themselves mired in California’s labyrinthine tenants’ laws, exacerbated by the new COVID rules.

Riverside is a large suburban area located about 50 miles east of downtown Los Angeles — although it’s still considered part of the Greater Los Angeles area.  Tracie and Myles Albert, a young couple in Riverside, found what they thought was the perfect home: a four-bedroom that they could buy quickly, for cash.

On January 31, 2020, the Alberts scraped together $560,000 in cash and gained title to the property.  They have yet to move in.

Despite having pocketed $560,000 and given up title, the original owner refuses to leave.  Even under normal circumstances, this would be a problem for the new homeowners because California landlord-tenant laws are so hostile to the landlord.  While the former owner isn’t technically a tenant — because there is no lease and no landlord-tenant relationship, and he owes no rent — it’s notoriously difficult to oust even squatters from properties in California.

Unfortunately for the Alberts, they have something worse to contend with than ordinary California law.  They’re also fighting the new COVID rules:

[Chris] Taylor [the Alberts’ realtor] says, “It’s genuinely unfathomable to me that we live in a state where something like this is even possible. They closed escrow on this home January 31, 2020.”  The Alberts and Taylor have contacted authorities and tried to get the seller evicted but because of the pandemic, they’ve gotten nowhere.

“They have this case under a COVID tenant situation, of no evictions when it doesn’t fall under that at all. This transaction went through in January 2020 before any of that, it isn’t a renter who was getting thrown out. It’s the guy who collected all of this money,” stated Myles.

What’s happening to the Alberts isn’t unique.  According to an eviction attorney, Dennis Block, “[t]his year alone, we’ve handled at least 7, maybe 8, cases of this exact type of situation.”

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