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For years, California Cities and Counties have faced a conundrum when attempting to have a Receiver appointed for substandard properties. Previously, the California Health and Safety Code § 17980.7(c) required an enforcement agency to provide a “3 Day Notice” notifying a Property Owner that the agency intended to petition the Court to have a Receiver appointed. Then when filing the petition with the Court, proof that the “3 Day Notice” had been served must be included with the petition.

The previous language of California Health and Safety Code § 17980.7(c) is as follows:

“(c) The enforcement agency… may seek and the court may order, the appointment of a receiver for the substandard building pursuant to this subdivision. In its petition to the court, the enforcement agency… shall include proof that notice of the petition was served not less than three days prior to filing the petition, pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 415.10) of Chapter 4 of Title 5 of Part 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure, to all persons with a recorded interest in the real property upon which the substandard building exists.”

When dealing with Health and Safety Receiverships it is quite common for a City or County to be unable to determine the current location of a Property Owner, despite the many resources that are available to attempt to locate these individuals. Many Property Owners, for a variety of reasons, will walk away from their property leaving the enforcement agency to deal with the multitude of problems left behind. The previous version of California Health and Safety Code § 17980.7(c) left California agencies with a nearly impossible challenge when the Property Owner was unable to be located.

When faced with a missing (or deceased) owner, a City or County would often seek permission from the Court to serve via publication. Pursuant to the previous version of this section, a City or County would have to serve by publication the “3 Day Notice” prior to filing the petition. This requirement left these agencies in a procedural dilemma: one cannot ask a Court for permission to serve via publication when no action is pending, but yet the receivership petition could not be filed, thereby initiating the action, until the “3 Day Notice” was served.

Further, the previous version of California Health and Safety Code § 17980.7(c) was unclear on who should be served with the petition once it had been filed and the action was initiated.

Thanks to a group of California attorneys who work with various municipalities, they took it into their own hands to get some clarity on California Health and Safety Code § 17980.7(c) and rewrite the section. This was presented to the California Committee on Housing and Community Development, and on October 8, 2019 Governor Newsom signed AB 957.

California Health and Safety Code § 17980.7(c) now reads as follows (with changes to the previous version notated):

(c) The enforcement agency…may seek and the court may order, the appointment of a receiver for the substandard building pursuant to this subdivision. In its petition to the court, the enforcement agency… shall include proof that notice of the petition was served  posted in a prominent place on the substandard building and mailed first-class mail to all persons with a recorded interest in the real property upon which the substandard building exists not less than three days prior to filing the petition,  petition. The petition shall be served on the owner pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 415.10) of Chapter 4 of Title 5 of Part 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure, to all persons with a recorded interest in the real property upon which the substandard building exists. Procedure. 

These updated changes have provided much needed direction and clarity for California Cities and Counties. Under the new law, enforcement agencies are now only required to post the property with the “3 Day Notice” and mail it via first-class mail to all people and/or entities with a recorded interest. Three days after the posting and mailing of the notice, the enforcement agency can then file the receivership petition with the Court and serve it on the Property Owner according the California Code of Civil Procedure § 415.10. These changes will help streamline the receivership process state-wide and allow a Receiver to be appointed over some of the most problematic properties in which a Property Owner cannot be located.

A Health & Safety Receiver can provide the long-desired solution to problematic abandoned properties. Receiver Richardson “Red” Griswold has been appointed by California courts over 100 times across 13 counties to act as a Receiver for substandard properties. For more information, please contact Griswold Law, APC at (858) 481-1300 or rgriswold@griswoldlawca.com.