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Thomas McJD
Thomas McJD, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 6516
Experience:  Real Estate Attorney
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I need to find out what can be done I went ot to a house abonneded

Customer Question

I need to find out what can be done I went ot to a house abonneded for 10 years and lived and fixed the house spending aa lot of money, after all fixed and cleaned the police came and arrested me, I tried negotiating with the landlord to see if I can at least leave there for a small rent so I can get some of the thousands of dollars spendt in fixing and cleaning the place. Please help
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Thomas McJD replied 4 years ago.

TMcJD :

Hi, I will be happy to assist you, and it is my goal to make you a very satisfied customer! This may take a few minutes, so thanks for your patience.

TMcJD :

Did you pay property taxes on the home while there?

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

no

TMcJD :

Unfortunately, then you have no legal claim to the home. You are considered a trespasser and can be forcefully removed from the property. You might be able to claim compensation from the homeowner on the theory of unjust enrichment -- that although he didn't have an agreement with you to pay you for repairing the property, he would be unjustly enriched if he were allowed to keep the benefit of your improvements without providing some compensation to you. However, that argument will likely be trumped by any argument on his part for damages caused by your trespass. Plus he'll claim that you're living there was adequate compensation to you for any expenses you incurred.

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

I tried doing everything the right way

TMcJD :

CA does allow a trespasser to acquire title by adverse possession after five years if certain requirements are met (which are probably met in your case), but you must have also paid all property taxes on time during that five years.

TMcJD :

The law just changed -- used to you could meet all the requirements and then pay a lump sum on taxes and claim title. But they changed it in 2011 so now you have to have paid all taxes on time for 5 years, so unfortunately you no longer can make the argument that many in your same position made in past years.

TMcJD :

I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news -- I hate this part of my job. Unfortunately, though, there is no law that will allow you to stay in the property and you likely cannot receive any benefit for your labors. Please understand I am just telling you the law. Please don't shoot the messenger.

TMcJD :

Please let me know if I can provide additional assistance.

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

I tried paying the tax but the tax in the house were paid up to Jan 2013

TMcJD :

I'm sorry, you had to actually pay taxes on time for 5 years and meet the other requirements to claim title by adverse possession.

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

I am not trying to get the house by adverse possession all I wanted him was to either to give me money that was spend or ,if at least I could rent the house for an agreed amount of time so the money spent over 10,000 would be compansated this doesnt even could all the time I spend myself and friends cleaning the house had been abandoned for over 10 years plus people must of used to party becuase that was trash, dirt etc.....

TMcJD :

But as noted above, you were a trespasser and the owner has no legal obligation to rent to you or compensate you for any improvements you made. As also noted, You might be able to claim compensation from the homeowner on the theory of unjust enrichment -- that although he didn't have an agreement with you to pay you for repairing the property, he would be unjustly enriched if he were allowed to keep the benefit of your improvements without providing some compensation to you. However, that argument will likely be trumped by any argument on his part for damages caused by your trespass. Plus he'll claim that you're living there was adequate compensation to you for any expenses you incurred.

TMcJD :

If there were a legal remedy for you, I would certainly tell you what that remedy was -- I would want you to be compensated or get something for your labor. But the law just doesn't provide that remedy.

TMcJD :

Again, I'm only telling you the law, although I wish I could tell you something different. Please don't shoot the messenger.

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

But I do have an argument?

TMcJD :

Again, the only argument you can make is one under an unjust enrichment theory -- but it will probably fail in the end.

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

Becuase I only lived there for about 9 months

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

why do you thinks it would fail?

TMcJD :

Because the owner would claim you were a trespasser causing damage and that you received adequate compensation already by living there rent free. In other words, the amount of improvements made would cancel out what you would have paid in rent. It would be a wash. Plus a judge would not favor an argument by a trespasser that the trespasser should be compensated. I'm not saying it would fail -- it's just likely to fail. There's always a chance that you would succeed -- it's just not high.

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

now I only lived there 10 months how could it be 10,000?

TMcJD :

How much is monthly rent in your area?

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

a house like the way it was when I came in?

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

or the way its now?

TMcJD :

The way it is now.

TMcJD :

And the way it was then.

TMcJD :

Let me know both.

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

before no one would want to be there because it was trashed and demadged paping it coulded 10,000 because I had a handyman that was a friend that does that for a leaving that didnt charge me much plus I bought the materials

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

there were leaks, new tub it was brouwn people used it to go to the bathroom

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

but now it would be about $700 it needs still work

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

but now has water, the pipes were replaced

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

but one of the tubs its still bad because there were feces all over the house the tub is brown even after I bleached for days

TMcJD :

Okay, you're getting closer to an argument on your part, but keep in mind unjust enrichment is an equitable remedy -- one deemed fair. As noted, a court would not favor compensating a trespasser under a principle in the law concerning fairness.

TMcJD :

You can make the argument though. If you go that route, it would be best if you retained local counsel to assist you in bringing your case.

TMcJD :

Perhaps you could begin by making a demand (through your attorney) via certified letter to the owner to be allowed to live there for a rent or to compensate you or you will sue the owner.

TMcJD :

That might get you an agreement with the owner.

TMcJD :

And that is the typical first step before you actually sue.

TMcJD :

www.martindale.com is a good website for locating attorneys in your area.

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

is there any attorneys that would help me in this matter?

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

I still owe money to the man that did the handy work because I have been paying him littlle by little

TMcJD :

There may be -- there's just no way for me to know. I would suggest finding a handful and contacting them to discuss further.

JACUSTOMER-mwmt9fi1- :

to you know any govermental agency that would give me a free attorney

TMcJD :

No, unfortunately you will not be able to retain a pro bono attorney for this type of matter.