Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Kremerman v. White (Cal. Ct. App. - Nov. 9, 2021)

Justice Stratton gets it spot on here.  No way the default judgment should have been entered.  No way.  There simply wasn't proper service.

It's not often you see a landlord-tenant dispute in the Court of Appeal.  But then again, this isn't your usual rental.  When I was reading the facts, I thought that I was confused, since it talked about a $16,000 yearly rent and a $25,000 security deposit.  Why would anyone pay a $25,000 deposit for a rental that only costs roughly $1,500 a month?

Oh, my bad.  It's a year-long lease, but it's $16,000 a month.  Got it.  This is not your ho-hum rental.  Even in Studio City.

The other thing that popped into my head was a line in the opinion from the defendant about why she was not at home during one of the various service attempts: "She stated she was out of town during the process server’s third stake-out on May 14, 2019, as she was in New York City to appear on the Wendy Williams show."  Oh.  The Wendy Williams show, eh?  Defendant must be famous (in addition to wealthy).

So I go back and look at the caption.  Her name is "Angela White".  Never heard of her.

So I hit up Mr. Google.  Which -- let just warn you -- has a very NSFW website as its first result.

What I should have done was simply read all the footnotes in the case first.  Justice Stratton explains in one of them:  "The parties interchangeably refer to appellant as Angela White or Blac Chyna, her professional name. We refer to appellant by her legal last name, White."

Oh.  Blac ChynaHer I've heard about. The whole kid-and-crazy-relationship-with-Rob-Kardashian thing.  Plus the modeling and . . . other stuff.

Anyway, Ms. White wins.  As she should.

Plus, to be honest, the landlord sounds like a . . . not good person.  His name is Michael Kremerman.  He rents the place to Ms. White, she re-ups the lease, and then she says she wants to leave early because she's bought a house, and he says, fine, though you'll still owe four months of rent if I'm not able to find someone to rent the place.  (The agent's actual words in the email were:  “The owner is happy to let [White] out of the contract, but as you may know, she is obligated to pay rent through the term of the lease, or until the Landlord finds new tenants that are willing to pay the same amount that she’s currently paying.”).  Cool, that's the law.

Then Ms. White moves out, and the landlord charges Ms. White four months of rent, saying that he was unable to lease the place.  (Then he takes her default, and garnishes her bank account.)

But check out what Ms. White's attorney subsequently finds (and presents to the court):

"White included as an exhibit the Zillow history of the Studio City property, which showed that on December 6, 2018, Kremerman listed the property for sale for $4.95 million, and then on December 7, 2018, he listed it for rent for $22,500 per month, “over $6,000 per month more than [White] had paid for rent.” On December 17, 2018, the rental listing was removed. On January 9, 2019, the property was sold; escrow closed on March 5, 2019. White argued “[h]ad [her] former landlord instead listed the [property] for rent . . . for $16,480, he would have been able to find a new tenant very quickly.” She also contended Kremerman improperly sought future unpaid rent for the month of March 2019 when Kremerman “no longer even owned the leased premises” as of March 5, 2019 when escrow closed."

When I hear that, I'm begging to find a way to reverse the default.  Which is the right result anyway.

Because, IMHO, the landlord is not un-sleazy.