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Blurred lines between co-tenants and landlords

Discussion in 'Eviction, Recovery of Premises' started by Aggreived1, Jul 1, 2021.

  1. Aggreived1

    Aggreived1 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Please forgive me for the LONG post (and duplication to 2 sections of this forum). I felt it would be appropriate to post in two different sections due to the potential for the issue to be considered under more than one branch of law.

    After a breach of contract dispute with my co-tenants (medical professionals), with whom I share office space (WHO ARE ALSO MY LANDLORDS), I am subject to an arbitration award which states that I must vacate the premises within 30 days of the final award (an award, I will add, that was obtained fraudulently). Despite the award itself bearing a date of June 1st, it was served electronically on June 3 (as evidenced by the signed declaration of service).

    Today I received a message from one of my co-tenants (also, my landlord remember), which stated that the locks on the building (and into the office suite) have been changed and if I want to recover my personal belongings, I would have to arrange a time during business hours to do so. The message includes details of the contents of my locked private office, which indicate that they have entered it without my permission (and without notice as my landlords).

    The binding arbitration award has not been confirmed, and I am not sure they have any authority to take such actions against me, until it is (even if they had waited until July 4th to do so). Given that 30 days has not yet elapsed, this action is illegitimate by order of the award and I should be entitled to enter my office at my discretion (without such entry being subject to their permission or any constraints they seek to impose upon me), at least until July 3rd. They have violated my privacy and illegally seized control of my personal belongings.

    Even if the June 1 date (printed in the award) was controlling in determining the beginning of the 30 day period, I would have until the end of the day to enter my office and retrieve my belongings. However, I am of the belief that June 3rd (the date of service of the award) determines the start of the 30 day period and I should have until July 3 to enter the premises as I see fit.

    They are also actively interfering in my access to my patient records and my ability (and obligation) to serve my patients (which subjects me to, potential, professional liability). I believe this amounts to tortious interference by my co-tenants. I believe their entry into my private office is also illegal under California law regarding landlord-tenant leases of commercial property.

    These people are not reasonable, so any suggestion to attempt to negotiate with them is not helpful. I have attempted to contact attorneys to enforce my rights, but have not been able to speak to anyone yet.

    When contemplated as an action contrary to the arbitration award, what options does this afford me? What can I do to enforce my rights to enter my office, immediately? What do I need to do to secure any, potential, advantages this may afford me?

    When contemplated as an illegitimate action by my landlords (without giving me appropriate notice), barring me from access to my possessions and as an invasion of my privacy, in violation of California law (I assume), what can I do to assert my rights to access my office immediately and secure my possessions? They own the building as an LLC, independent of any association with themselves professionally, and independent of the arbitration clause in our professional agreement. Can I hold them liable?

    When contemplated for the professional ramifications, I believe this to be an act of tortious interference, and not subject to the arbitration agreement, which covers “disputes” generally, but does not mention torts. I know I need (another) attorney (and I have been trying to find one for weeks, with little luck so far), but I need advice, immediately, while it still matters.

    Any advice (from the different perspectives) would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for you consideration!
     
  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Sorry, you get to pick only one forum to avoid parallel discussions. We all read them all anyway. Your other thread has been deleted. Keep all questions and discussions here.

    The arbitration award was dated June 1 giving you 30 days to remove your property from the premises. Yet, 30 days later, you have not done so. What did you think would happen? Common sense would dictate that you start moving out immediately instead of procrastinating.

    Regardless of your beliefs in vague legal theories I think that your only option is to "arrange a time during business hours" to remove your belongings before they get a writ of possession that allows them to remove and dispose of it all.

    You agreed to binding arbitration at some point. That means you waived trial and you waived appeals. Which is probably why you are having so much trouble finding an attorney.

    Perhaps you should just accept the fact that your landlords won and you need to engage in the preservation of your property and records. Hire a truck, get your stuff moved while it still exists, and then you can spend whatever time and money you want to spend on seeking additional legal advice.

    Bottom line: You should have been out of there weeks ago.
     
  3. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    In general the arbitration decision is effective without the need to confirm it in court. Under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) confirmation of an arbitration award simply means that the court will record the award as a judgment. But that confirmation is not necessary to make the award binding between the parties. In short, the award is effective whether or not it's confirmed. The only difference is that confirmation is needed for the landlords to invoke the aid of a court to enforce it.

    The court doesn't second guess the arbiter's decision unless you challenge it on one of the very few grounds that are available for that. An award procured by fraud would be one of those limited grounds. You'd need to file an action in court asking to vacate the award if you wanted to pursue that. But ask yourself if that will be worth the cost. Especially if you'd end up being kicked out of the premises in the end anyway.

    As for when the 30 days starts to run, I can't answer that as I've not read the decision. But it sounds like you are only arguing here about three days. Moreover, your landlords have said you can arrange with them to come and get your stuff. So I suggest you do that now and get your stuff out. Even if they acted three days early, I'm not seeing where that would get you any significant money in a lawsuit against them.
     
  4. Aggreived1

    Aggreived1 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you for the reply. While I can understand your perspective that I should’ve “been out of there weeks ago”, as a doctor, it is not as simple as just closing my doors. My patients represent a significant risk of liability since I am obligated to serve them.

    I understand that you, and everyone else who reads my post, probably assumes that I breached my contract and that is why I’ve been ousted, but that isn’t the case at all. I should have prevailed in the arbitration. Really!

    Be that as it may, I was not ordered to vacate in 27 days. I was ordered to vacate in 30. If the Award means anything at all, then it should mean that I should have an expectation to be afforded that length of time. That would mean that I would have the right to “procrastinate”, as you say, until the very last second (as long as I am out by the end of 30 days).

    With all due respect, I don’t think I’ve stated any vague legal theories. I believe that my expectations, that what is stated in the Award should be what I should be able to expect, is reasonable. What I was inquiring about was, when the 30 days starts and ends, and what can be done to hold them accountable for violating the award, if anything. I don’t want to waive any right to lodge my protest, if I have any.

    Vague legal theories aside, I believe what I was asking about are laws and reasonable legal expectations. As a tenant, I believe that I have certain rights and, as my landlords, they have certain rules. I believe that one of those rules is that they are supposed to provide me with notice before entering my private (locked) office and unlawfully taking possession of my property. I believe I have a right to privacy.

    Imagine it wasn’t toward the end of the 30 day period, if that makes it more palatable. What if they had locked me out the day after the award was issued? What then? Because, it seems to me, that it makes no difference if it was the first day or the last day.

    I believe that what they have done is unlawful (as my landlords), and violates the Award (as my co-tenants). Frankly, I don’t care to have to ask the permission of the people who have, financially exploited me for years, and have, illegitimately, stolen my practice, defamed me, and created enormous risk of liability for me, in order to get my property back and for what I should’ve
    been able to expect from this erroneous award (which is a complete farce).

    Perhaps, that may seem petty, but I assure you it is not. I have received, absolutely no justice in this matter, I assure you. So, maybe what I seek is some indication that, even now, I can expect some justice, in the way of, allowing me what I was afforded by the words contained in the Award, and that they should be held accountable for stealing that away from me too. I don’t believe that I should consider myself lucky if they don’t compound their transgressions against me with more transgressions.

    The questions stand, as the losing party in the arbitration (not with them as my landlords, but as my co-tenants), given the expectation that I was granted a certain amount of time to vacate, what can I do to protest their violation of that consideration?

    As my landlords, I assume that they broke the law, by entering my locked office without notice and taking control of my property. What can I do to assert my rights as a tenant?
     
  5. Aggreived1

    Aggreived1 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I’ll reiterate, the Award bears the date June 1st, but it wasn’t served to the parties until June 3rd.
     
  6. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    First you are assuming that the 30 days runs from the date you were served, which may not be the case. It may be that the 30 days runs from the date of the award. Your presumption that you must be given a full 30 days notice to move out your stuff may be incorrect. Again, the exact language of the award may make a big difference here on that.

    Second, they have given you the opportunity to get your stuff by contacting them and arranging a time to get it. As a practical matter, you ought to avail yourself that opportunity to get your things. If you want to argue about the rest of it later, that's up to you, but it's far better for you to pursue that with your stuff in your possession rather than locked up someplace by your landlords.


    You can complain to the police, but I can pretty well bet they won't take any action and tell you this is a civil matter, which is really what this is anyway.

    You may sue them in court to vacate the award based on fraud — if you can prove the fraud — and/or for a money judgment if you can convince the court they locked you out early and that you suffered some kind of significant financial harm from it. My bet is that the couple of days you are fighting about here hasn't cost you any significant money and without those damages you don't win anything out of this. In other words, you don't win money here just because they violated the award (if they did) and locked you out early. You have to show the financial harm. Moreover, suing will cost you a lot of money in legal fees and take many months to litigate.

    I get that you are upset at your former landlords, and I'm guessing that there is more to your anger than just the couple of days they locked you out. But frankly, at this point the best practical way to deal with this is to contact them, get your stuff, and move on. I know you don't like that because you'd like to ding them for something here, get some amount of revenge out if, but sometimes that's just not worth time and money you'd need to spend to do it, and there's no guarantee you'd win in the end anyway. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and move on from situations like this. From my perspective, this is one of those. But if you want to sue, then your next step (after getting your stuff) should be to see a civil litigation attorney.
     

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