Pubdate: Wed, 30 Dec 2015
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2015 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Eric Vodden


For the third time, Yuba County has been sued over its policy of 
targeting property owners when tenants are caught illegally growing marijuana.

Nathan and Hannah Lang maintain the county wrongly held them 
responsible for 617 cannabis plants grown last July on their property 
at 6152 Brophy Road. The Langs, in an October hearing before the 
Board of Supervisors, were assessed penalties and fees totaling nearly $67,000.

The lawsuit, filed by Marysville attorney Roberto Marquez, claims the 
Langs did not know of the marijuana grow on their land. It maintains 
"a landlord cannot be held responsible for nuisance abatement costs 
for the acts of the tenant unless he knows of nuisance and allows or 
permits it to occur or continue after the landlord receives notice..."

The county and the Board of Supervisors are named as defendants. A 
court order revoking the board's action and court costs are being sought.

Yuba County officials said they had not yet been served with the suit 
and could not comment.

Two previous lawsuits, also filed by Marquez, similarly challenge 
Yuba County's process of fining property owners and charging them 
abatement costs, even though they might not know the marijuana is 
illegally being grown.

In the first lawsuit, a Yuba County judge ordered supervisors to 
revoke a $16,000 abatement penalty imposed on Jon and Amy Messick as 
landlords of Olivehurst property where a marijuana garden was found. 
A county appeal of that ruling is pending in the 3rd District Court of Appeal.

Also pending in Yuba County Superior Court is a lawsuit challenging 
$30,050 in penalties and abatement costs imposed on Jesus and Maria 
Torres related to a grow found on property in Linda. That suit also 
claims "the petitioners cannot be held responsible for the acts of 
their tenants."

All three lawsuits were filed after the Board of Supervisors last 
spring approved a new marijuana cultivation ordinance that bans 
outdoor cannabis grows.

The Langs lawsuit maintains previous case law determined "a landlord 
is not liable for a nuisance created by a tenant when the nuisance 
was not present at the time of the letting."

It states for a landlord to be liable, he or she would have had to 
know about the nuisance and "permitted it to continue without 
abatement or failed to conduct a reasonable inspection upon renewal 
of a lease."

It also notes a landlord's access to enter rented property is 
limited, and checking on compliance with local ordinances is not 
included as a justification for a property owner to enter leased premises.
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