Civil Code §891. Civil Damages for Rent Skimming.
(a) A seller of an interest in residential real property who received a promissory note or other evidence of indebtedness for all or a portion of its purchase price secured by a lien on the property may bring an action against any person who has engaged in rent skimming with respect to that property. A seller who prevails in the action shall recover all actual damages and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. The court may award any appropriate equitable relief. The court shall award exemplary damages of not less than three times the actual damages if the defendant has engaged in multiple acts of rent skimming and may award exemplary damages in other cases.
(b) A seller of an interest in residential real property who reacquires the interest from a person who has engaged in rent skimming with respect to that property, or a law enforcement agency, may request the court for an order declaring that the reacquired interest is not encumbered by any lien that is or has the effect of a judgment lien against the person who engaged in rent skimming if the lien is not related to any improvement of the property and does not represent security for loan proceeds made by a bona fide lien holder without knowledge of facts constituting a violation of this title. The motion or application shall be made with at least 30 days’ advance written notice to all persons who may be affected by the order, including lienholders, and shall be granted unless the interests of justice would not be served by such an order.
(c) A mortgagee or beneficiary under a deed of trust encumbering residential real property may bring an action against a person who has engaged in rent skimming with respect to that property as one of multiple acts of rent skimming, whether or not the person has become contractually bound by an obligation secured by the mortgage or deed of trust. The mortgagee or beneficiary who prevails in the action shall recover actual damages to the extent of the amount of the rent collected on the encumbered property and attorney’s fees and costs. The court also may order any appropriate equitable relief and may award exemplary damages.
(d) A tenant of residential real property may bring an action against a person who has engaged in rent skimming with respect to that property for the recovery of actual damages, including any security, as defined in Section 1950.5, and moving expenses if the property is sold at a foreclosure sale and the tenant was required to move. A prevailing plaintiff in such an action shall be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. The court also may award exemplary damages; it shall award exemplary damages of at least three times the amount of actual damages if the payments due under any deed of trust or mortgage were two or more months delinquent at the time the tenant rented the premises or if the defendant has engaged in multiple acts of rent skimming.
(e) The rights and remedies provided in this section are in addition to any other rights and remedies provided by law.
(f) Rent skimming is unlawful, and any waiver of the provisions of this section are void and unenforceable as contrary to public policy.
(g) Sections 580a, 580b, 580d, and 726 of the Code of Civil Procedure do not apply to any action brought under this title.
(Added by Stats. 1986, Ch. 838, Sec. 1.)