I am not a Landlord-Tenant attorney; if you want one of those, I can recommend a great one to you. However, within the fields of real estate law that I practice, two specialized areas of litigation often arise:

  • Evicting a Tenant from an Unpermitted/illegal Dwelling Unit and
  • Selling/Buying property with Unpermitted Units

Many times, a person purchases real property without knowing that there is an unpermitted/illegal unit on site. Frequently, this fact will not be uncovered for months, maybe even years later. What do you do when you discover that there is unpermitted and/or illegal construction on the property? The best advice I got was – see someone who specializes in the area - like we do at the Law Offices of Andrew S. Baker, APLC.


Evicting a tenant from an illegal unit involves a difficult, complex and misunderstood area of law.  The good news is that it CAN be done . . .  but if it's done wrong, it will be EXTREMELY costly for you, the property owner. First, we must realize that tenants and tenants' rights attorneys have become much more sophisticated in this area of law. Counties, such as Los Angeles have jumped on the Rent Control bandwagon and now we have Statewide Rent Control so items such as relocation fees have become prevalent.

Sharp code compliance attorneys still employ subtle ways to minimize a property owner's out of pocket expenses when evicting a tenant from an unpermitted unit (when not confronted with pandemic eviction moratoriums). It takes a lot of planning and legal strategy to do it right.

What a residential property owner/landlord needs to know is:

  1. If there are “normal” grounds to evict a tenant, can you do so?
  2. Can you evict a tenant from an illegal or unpermitted unit?
  3. Will it cost be anything to evict the tenant?
  4. How MUCH will it cost you?
  5. Other than legal fees (if any) when will costs have to be paid?
  6. What steps have to be taken?
  7. Are you under any time constraints?
  8. What happens if you don't follow all the regulations?
  9. What are YOUR rights and obligations in this area?

Moreover, some of the problems that come up for landlords in this area are:

  • Are all your rental units registered with your local rent control authority?
  • Is your unit exempt from rent control?
  • If you have a single-family dwelling, but MORE than one rental unit, which if any do you have to register?
  • What happens if you don't comply with the provisions of your rent control ordinance?
  • Can you still evict tenants if a unit was built without permits?
  • What other crucial information do you need to know about in this area???

The bottom line is this:  A landlord who wants to evict a tenant from an unpermitted unit, HAS to know his/her legal rights and obligations.  This is not an area of law that falls under a standard unlawful detainer.  Only a lawyer specializing in this area of law can properly assist you.


This is a difficult and complex area of law.  It implicates the rights and responsibilities of the property seller, purchaser, and real estate brokers if they are involved.  What must be disclosed; when – and by whom?

It is not uncommon (at least not to me) for buyers of property to go after sellers, even if the sale occurred years ago, past what is the usual time for a legal cause of action to be enforced.  Statutes of limitation are laws that limit how much time one has to enforce their rights.  For instance, generally speaking, in California, a written contract must be enforced within four years of its making, and an oral contract with two years.  But of course, there are exceptions – which are very applicable for code compliance related cases.

Rarely will a buyer's home inspector either know or be contractually bound to find and disclose illegal units.  The seller is required by law to provide the buyer with the information about the illegal condition. The seller liability (in California) says that if the seller knows about an illegal conversion, remodeling or addition, he or she is required to disclose this information in writing to the buyer.        

A common issue is that many times it is not possible to say clearly whether the seller knew beforehand when the illegal conversion, remodeling or addition was made. If it was built before his or her ownership of the property, they may not been informed of it, and due to this reason may be as surprised as the new buyer when he or she realizes about the possible illegal condition. In this case, it may be necessary to determine the approximate age of the addition (if possible), and from then on suggest any legal measure that could be taken based on the results of the analysis.

In California, if you were the buyer and you have only recently learned of an illegal unit(s) on your property, I suggest that you give me a call.  You STILL have legal rights that can be enforced against the seller.  This is true no matter how long ago you purchased the property.

Call me, Andy Baker, for a free,
25 minute Consultation

We'll “meet” on the phone, talk about your particular legal issue and we'll see if I can be of further assistance to you. I'll answer all your questions and when we're done, if you want, I can show you a couple of ways I can help.

By the end of the call, you'll:

  1. Understand the nature of your legal matter
  2. Feel RELAXED about your situation
  3. And have a much better idea of the legal and practical next steps you need to take to resolve your problem.

After 25+ years as an attorney working on both simple and complex legal issues, often with government agencies all over California, I'm familiar with how the system works in the areas of law I practice, what the codes and land use terminology actually mean in
legal and practical terms, and how they are interpreted by different building inspectors, housing inspectors, city attorneys, district attorneys and judges. Put all this together and it means your Free Consultation is a good place to start.

Here are two ways to schedule your
Free, 25-Minute Code Clarifying Call

1. Call me, Andy Baker, now at 818-620-6023

I answer my own phone. If you get the voicemail. just leave your name and number and the city your property is located along with a brief message of what you're calling about, a good time to call you back and I will call you back.

2. You can also reach me by email at: [email protected]

In your email please tell me your name, a little bit about your situation and I will write back to you.

Here is what my clients say about me:

"I have been working in real estate for over 30 years, and have been relying on Andy
Baker's advice for half that time.  He is very thorough, responds quickly, and keeps my
stress down!"
– Ron Lepp, Property Manager, Beverly Hills, CA

“When I was first cited for having an illegally constructed unit, I was very confused as
what I needed to do. Andy was very helpful in dealing with the city and helping me
navigate through all the red tape. Andy is insightful, sharp and easy to work with.”
– Antonio S., Multi-unit Property Owner, Los Angeles, CA

I help clients solve sticky code issues, arrange successful transactions, avoid costly
mistakes, and resolve legal disputes.

Law Offices of Andrew S. Baker, APLC Is Here for You

At the Law Offices of Andrew S. Baker, APLC, we focus on your concerns by listening to you as we help you navigate the legal system.

Contact Us Today

The Law Offices of Andrew S. Baker, APLC is committed to answering your questions about Illegal Conversions for Houses and Apartments, Construction, Land Use, and Real Estate law issues in California.

We offer a free consultation and we'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.