Property Management

Employee of tenant is immune from eviction as beneficiary under lease

Reported by Bradley Markano

An occupant’s rent was paid by his employer under a lease agreement entered into solely by the employer and the landlord, naming the employer as the tenant on the lease. The occupant’s employment was later terminated, and the employer informed the occupant and landlord that rent would no longer be paid. Upon a request from the employer, the landlord entered without the occupant’s permission, changing the locks and forcing the occupant to vacate the premises. No notice was served on the occupant, and no unlawful detainer (UD) action was filed. The occupant sought to recover his money loss from the forced eviction, claiming the landlord was liable for self-help and forcible entry since the occupant was protected as the intended beneficiary under the lease. The landlord claimed he had acted properly since the occupant was not named as a tenant on the lease and his status as an employee of the tenant had been terminated. A California appeals court held the occupant was entitled to recover his money loss from the eviction since the occupant possessed the property under a lease agreement which had not been terminated, and the landlord’s attempt to oust the occupant by entering against his will and changing the locks on the employer’s breach of the lease was both forcible entry and self-help. [Spinks v. Equity Residential Briarwood Apartments (March 4, 2009)___CA4th__]