March 2012

Acceptance of Final Demand In Condemnation Did Not Give Rise To Litigation Expenses

Some states require the government to pay for all of the costs incurred by a property owner when it condemns land, however, California Eminent Domain Law only requires a public agency to pay for attorney's fees and litigation expenses when a court finds "that the offer of the plaintiff [public entity] was unreasonable and that the demand of the defendant [the property owner] was reasonable viewed in the light of the evidence admitted [at trial] and the compensation awarded [judgment]. . . ." (Cal. Code of Civil Procedure section 1250.410.) In a recent case, Cal. Dept. of Transportation v. Menigoz, the State accepted the property owners' statutory "final demand" several days before the scheduled trial date, resulting in a stipulated judgment. Upon the judgment being entered, the property owners' moved for their litigation expenses (attorneys' fees, experts' fees, trial preparation costs, etc.). The court granted the motion, in part, because the parties had spent considerable expense in preparing for trial.

Denial of Mobile Home Park’s Application for Rent Increase is Upheld Because Rent Control Ordinance Properly Balanced the Rights of the Park Owner and the Tenants

Appellant Besaro Mobile Home Park, LLC (“Besaro”) operated a mobile home park in the City of Fremont (“the City”).  In 1987, the City adopted a rent control ordinance to address the unique attributes of mobile home ownership and park management.  In 2009, Besaro filed an application for a major rent increase under the ordinance.  Although Besaro admitted that it was currently receiving a fair rate of return on its investment, it argued that the rents should be consistent with general market conditions.  The application was denied following an administrative hearing and the superior court denied Besaro’s petition for writ of administrative mandate.  In the appeal, Besaro argued that the denial of the major rent increase was contrary to the ordinance and violated its rights under the California Constitution.