Assignment is a legal term whereby an individual, the “assignor,” transfers rights, property, or other benefits to another known as the “ assignee .” This concept is used in both contract and property law. The term can refer to either the act of transfer or the rights /property/benefits being transferred.
Under contract law, assignment of a contract is both: (1) an assignment of rights; and (2) a delegation of duties , in the absence of evidence otherwise. For example, if A contracts with B to teach B guitar for $50, A can assign this contract to C. That is, this assignment is both: (1) an assignment of A’s rights under the contract to the $50; and (2) a delegation of A’s duty to teach guitar to C. In this example, A is both the “assignor” and the “delegee” who d elegates the duties to another (C), C is known as the “ obligor ” who must perform the obligations to the assignee , and B is the “ assignee ” who is owed duties and is liable to the “ obligor ”.
(1) Assignment of Rights/Duties Under Contract Law
There are a few notable rules regarding assignments under contract law. First, if an individual has not yet secured the contract to perform duties to another, he/she cannot assign his/her future right to an assignee . That is, if A has not yet contracted with B to teach B guitar, A cannot assign his/her rights to C. Second, rights cannot be assigned when they materially change the obligor ’s duty and rights. Third, the obligor can sue the assignee directly if the assignee does not pay him/her. Following the previous example, this means that C ( obligor ) can sue B ( assignee ) if C teaches guitar to B, but B does not pay C $50 in return.
(2) Delegation of Duties
If the promised performance requires a rare genius or skill, then the delegee cannot delegate it to the obligor. It can only be delegated if the promised performance is more commonplace. Further, an obligee can sue if the assignee does not perform. However, the delegee is secondarily liable unless there has been an express release of the delegee. That is, if B does want C to teach guitar but C refuses to, then B can sue C. If C still refuses to perform, then B can compel A to fulfill the duties under secondary liability.
Lastly, a related concept is novation , which is when a new obligor substitutes and releases an old obligor. If novation occurs, then the original obligor’s duties are wiped out. However, novation requires an original obligee’s consent .
Under property law, assignment typically arises in landlord-tenant situations. For example, A might be renting from landlord B but wants to another party (C) to take over the property. In this scenario, A might be able to choose between assigning and subleasing the property to C. If assigning , A would be giving C the entire balance of the term, with no reversion to anyone whereas if subleasing , A would be giving C for a limited period of the remaining term. Significantly, under assignment C would have privity of estate with the landlord while under a sublease, C would not.
[Last updated in May of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team ]
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- What is an assignment of rents?
by Brian D. Moreno, Esq., CCAL | General Real Estate Law , Homeowners Association
With the collection of assessments, community associations are always looking for creative ways to increase the chance of recovery. One underutilized remedy that may provide associations good results is an assignment of rents. If an owner-landlord fails to pay HOA assessments but continues to collect rent payments from his or her tenant, the association should consider rent assignment. There are prejudgment and post-judgment rent assignment remedies that can be pursued with regard to the delinquency. A post-judgment rent assignment can be pursued by way of a request to the court after a Judgment is entered against the owner-landlord.
A prejudgment rent assignment can be pursued even before filing a lawsuit if executed properly. In California, Civil Code Section 2938 regulates the formation and enforcement of the assignment of rents and profits generated by a lease agreement relating to real property. It provides that “[a] written assignment of an interest in leases, rents, issues, or profits of real property made in connection with an obligation secured by real property. . .shall, upon execution and delivery by the assignor, be effective to create a present security interest in existing and future leases, rents, issues, or profits of that real property. . . .” Once a written assignment of rents is properly authorized and formed, the law creates a security interest (i.e., lien) against the rents and profits paid by a tenant.
The question then is whether the association’s CC&Rs, by itself, creates an assignment of the right to a tenant’s rent payment in favor of the association. Indeed, section 2938(b) provides that the assignment of an interest in leases or rent of real property may be recorded in the same manner as any other conveyance of an interest in real property, whether the assignment is in a separate document or part of a mortgage or deed of trust. Since a homeowners association’s CC&Rs is a recorded document and contains covenants, equitable servitudes, easements, and other property interests against the development, it follows that the assignment of rents relief provided in Section 2938(b) can be extended to community associations provided the CC&Rs contains an appropriate assignment of rents provision.
Section 2938, however, does not clarify whether the CC&Rs document on its own creates a lien and enforceable assignment right. Moreover, a deed of trust is much different than a set of CC&Rs, in that the deed of trust creates a lien against the trustor’s property upon recordation, while a homeowners association would not have a lien until an owner becomes delinquent with his or her assessments and the association records an assessment lien against the property. Therefore, depending on the scope of the assignment of rents provision in the CC&Rs, a homeowners association would likely need to record an assessment lien first before pursuing rents from a tenant. Moreover, even after a lien is recorded, homeowners associations should consider adding a provision in the assessment lien giving notice to the delinquent owner that an assignment right is in effect upon recordation of the assessment lien. Nevertheless, association Boards should consult with legal counsel to ensure proper compliance with the law.
Once the assignment right becomes enforceable, the next issue is how the Association can and should proceed. Section 2938(c)(3) allows the association to serve a pre-lawsuit demand (a sample of which is included in the statute) on the tenant(s), demanding that the tenant(s) turn over all rent payments to the association. This can be a powerful tool for homeowners associations. Moreover, if the tenant complies, the association will receive substantial monthly payments that can be applied towards the assessment debt, and collecting the funds does not appear to preclude the association from pursuing judicial or non-judicial foreclosure proceedings at a later time.
While homeowner associations have the option of pursuing a lawsuit against the delinquent owner and seeking to collect the rent payments after a judgment has been obtained, there are obvious advantages to enforcing the assignment of rents provision prior to pursuing litigation. A pre-lawsuit assignment of rents demand may prove to be more effective and cheaper. Additionally, the tenant affected by the assignment of rents demand may place additional pressures on the delinquent owner/landlord having received such a demand. Given this, the options available pursuant to Section 2938, including the pre-lawsuit demand for rents, should at least be considered and analyzed before action is taken.
Truly, the initial pre-lawsuit demand for rents may persuade the landlord-owner to resolve the delinquency with the association in the face of the potential disturbance of the landlord-tenant relationship. Even if the tenant fails to comply with the demand and/or the owner fails to bring the account current, the association could nonetheless pursue foreclosure remedies and/or seek to have a receiver appointed to specifically enforce the assignment of rents provision.
In sum, if a delinquent homeowner is leasing the property to a tenant, the homeowners association should consider making a pre-lawsuit demand for rent payments. If the association’s CC&Rs does not contain an assignment of rents provision, the board of directors should consider amending the CC&Rs to include an appropriate provision. Without question, the pre-lawsuit demand for rents could provide an excellent opportunity for recovery of unpaid assessments during these difficult economic times.
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Properly Enforcing an Assignment of Rents
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In Florida, lenders typically obtain an “assignment of rents” if the property produces income by collecting rent, such as an apartment complex, rental home, rental space, or office building. An “assignment of rents” allows the lender to collect the rent payments, if the borrower defaults on their loan payments. Although the lender and borrower may agree to the assignment of rents in the loan documents, the procedure for enforcing the assignment of rent is governed by Section 697.07, Florida Statutes .
The Assignment of Rents Should be Recorded
If a lender and borrower agree to the assignment of rents as security for repayment of debt in a mortgage document, the lender will hold a lien on the rent payments. However, to perfect its rents lien against third parties, the lender must record the mortgage in the public records of the county in which the real property is located. Fla. Stat. § 697.07 (2).
How Can a Lender Enforce the Assignment of Rents?
Section 697.07 provides two methods for the lender to enforce the assignment of rent: (i) the actual assignment of rent to the lender, and (ii) the sequestration of rents into the court registry. Wane v. U.S. Bank, Nat’l Ass’n , 128 So. 3d 932, 934 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013) (“Section 697.07 draws a clear line between a motion seeking sequestration of rents into the court registry [under subsection (4)] and a motion seeking an actual assignment of rents to the lender pending foreclosure [under subsection (3)].”).
(i) Actual Assignment of Rent to the Lender
The first method, the actual assignment of rent to the lender, is provided in Section 697.07 (3). If the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender can make a written demand to the borrower to turn over “all rents in possession or control of the [borrower] at the time of the written demand or collected thereafter,” minus any expenses authorized by the lender in writing. Fla. Stat. § 697.07 (3). If the borrower does not turn over rent payments after the lender has made a written demand, the lender may foreclose on the rents lien and collect rent payments, without having to foreclose on the underlying mortgage. Ginsberg v. Lennar Fla. Holdings, Inc. , 645 So. 2d 490, 498 (Fla. 3d DCA 1994) (“[A]n assignment of rent creates a lien on the rents in favor of the mortgagee, and the mortgagee will have the right to foreclose that lien and collect the rents, without the necessity of foreclosing on the underlying mortgage.”).
To receive a court order for the actual assignment of rent, the lender will have to prove that there was a default, and that it made a written demand to the borrower to turn over rent payment. Wane , 128 So. 3d at 934. Additionally, an evidentiary hearing will be required.
(ii) Sequestration of Rent Into the Court Registry
The second method, the sequestration of rent into the court registry, is provided in Section 697.07 (4). This method can only be used if there is a pending mortgage foreclosure lawsuit. Unlike the first method, the lender does not have to prove that there was a default or make a written demand, and an evidentiary hearing is not required.
Either the borrower or lender may make a motion to the court for sequestration of rent into the court registry. Upon such a motion, a court, pending final judgment of foreclosure, may require the borrower to deposit the collected rents into the court, or in such other depository as the court may designate. The court must hear the motion on an expedited basis, and the moving party will only be required to show that there is a pending foreclosure lawsuit, and that there is a provision in the loan documents for the assignment of rent. Wane , 128 So. 3d at 934.
Moreover, a borrower cannot avoid sequestration of rents by raising defenses or counterclaims. Id. ; Fla. Stat. § 697.07 (4). In addition, the borrower will be required to submit records of receipt of rent to the court and lender, typically on a monthly basis throughout the lawsuit. The rents will remain in the court registry until conclusion of the foreclosure action.
To properly enforce the assignment of rents, the first thing lenders should do is record the assignment of rents in the public records of the county in which the real property is located. In the event the borrower defaults on their loan, the lender will have two options to enforce the assignment of rents: the actual assignment of rent to the lender (Section 697.07 (3)), or the sequestration of rents into the court registry (Section 697.07 (4)). If the lender is seeking the actual assignment of rent, the lender must send a written demand to the borrower to turn over the rent payments and provide proof of default. On the other hand, the lender may seek sequestration without proof of default or written demand. Showing the existence of an assignment of rents provision in the loan documents is sufficient to obtain sequestration of rents into the court registry.
- Austin B. Calhoun, Esq.
- Melissa G. Murrin, JD Candidate
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REAL ESTATE LAW
What is a deed of trust with assignment of rents.
By Rebecca K. McDowell, J.D.
February 24, 2020
Reviewed by Michelle Seidel, B.Sc., LL.B., MBA
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- What Is a Corporate Assignment of Deed of Trust?
A deed of trust is a written instrument granting a lien on real property. While slightly different from a mortgage, they are functionally nearly the same. Some states use deeds of trust instead of mortgages while others allow both. Either way, a deed of trust used to secure a commercial loan may also include an assignment of rents , which gives the lender the right to collect rental income from the property in the event of default.
What Is a Deed of Trust?
A deed of trust is a document that a borrower may execute in favor of a lender to give the lender a lien on a parcel of real estate. Like a mortgage, a deed of trust secures the loan by allowing the lender to foreclose on the real estate if the loan isn't paid (although in some states that use deeds of trust, a foreclosure isn't necessary).
Read More: How to Research a Deed of Trust
Deed of Trust vs. Mortgage
A deed of trust is very similar to a mortgage in that it pledges property to secure a loan. A mortgage, however, is simpler; the property owner executes a mortgage document in favor of the lender, and the lender records the mortgage and has a lien , but the property owner still holds title to the property.
A deed of trust, on the other hand, grants an actual ownership interest in the property to a trustee, who holds the property in trust for the lender until the obligation is paid.
What Is an Assignment of Rents?
An assignment of rents is extra security granted to a lender that provides a commercial loan. Commercial loans are loans that are not made for family or household use but for business purposes.
When a borrower grants a mortgage or deed of trust on real estate and the real estate has tenants who pay rent, the lender can demand an assignment of rents in addition to the mortgage or deed of trust.
The assignment of rents means that if the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender can step in and collect the rents directly from the tenants.
Deed of Trust With Assignment of Rents
A deed of trust may contain an assignment of rents clause for that same property. In addition to a clause in the deed of trust, the lender may also require the borrower to execute a separate document called an "Assignment of Rents" that is recorded with the register of deeds.
Whether the assignment is written in the deed of trust only or is also contained in a separate document, it is binding on the borrower as long as its language is clear and sufficient to create an assignment under state law.
Exercising an Assignment of Rents
When a lender decides to collect the rents on the borrower's property, the lender is said to be exercising the assignment of rents. The lender cannot exercise the assignment unless the borrower has defaulted on the loan. Once that happens, the lender can send a written demand to the tenant or tenants, requiring that the rents be paid directly to the lender.
Absolute Assignments of Rents
An assignment of rents most likely will contain language that the assignment is an absolute assignment . In most states, an absolute assignment gives the lender an immediate interest in the rents. This means that the lender actually owns the rents and is simply allowing the borrower to collect them on license until an event of default. Once a default occurs, the lender can intercept the rents without taking any court action; a letter to the tenants is all that's needed.
Every state's laws are different; the law of the state where the property is located will dictate how a lender can exercise an assignment of rents.
Read More: What Is the Difference Between a Deed and a Deed of Trust?
- Companies Incorporated: Mortgage States and Deed of Trust States
- American Bar Association: Commercial Real Estate FAQs
- Schulte Roth & Zabel: Sixth Circuit Upholds Assignment of Rents to Secured Lender
- Findlaw: California Civil Code - CIV § 2938
- Legal Beagle: What Is the Difference Between a Deed and a Deed of Trust?
- Legal Beagle: How to Research a Deed of Trust
- Legal Beagle: Documents Needed to Refinance a Mortgage
- Legal Beagle: How to File a Property Lien
Rebecca K. McDowell is a creditors' rights attorney with a special focus on bankruptcy and insolvency. She has a B.A. in English from Albion College and a J.D. from Wayne State University Law School. She has written legal articles for Nolo and the Bankruptcy Site.
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Collateral Assignment Of Lease
Jump to section, what is a collateral assignment of lease.
A collateral assignment of lease is a legal contract that transfers the rights to rental payments from the asset's owner to a lender to secure funding. In this contract, the lease’s rentals are like a loan from the funder to the lessor and the lease acts as security. Collateral assignment of lease agreements are often used in commercial real estate. In addition to the actual contract, the agreement is often accompanied by a promissory note and a security agreement. Throughout the duration of a collateral assignment of lease agreement, the lessor retains ownership of the leased asset.
Common Sections in Collateral Assignment Of Leases
Below is a list of common sections included in Collateral Assignment Of Leases. These sections are linked to the below sample agreement for you to explore.
Collateral Assignment Of Lease Sample
Reference : Security Exchange Commission - Edgar Database, EX-10.4 5 dex104.htm COLLATERAL ASSIGNMENT OF LEASES AND RENTS FOR THE LA CIENEGA-LA PROPERTY , Viewed November 9, 2021, View Source on SEC .
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Assignment of Rents: Substance Over Form and Meaning of `Property of the Estate’
By Adam L. Rosen and Sheryl P. Giugliano
At the beginning of a Chapter 11 single asset real estate case a debtor may encounter resistance from its secured lender over the debtor’s postpetition use of rents which are subject to an assignment of rents agreement. Secured lenders may argue that rents subject to an assignment of rents are not property of the estate, and therefore, are not cash collateral available for use by the debtor. Secured lenders have had some success in argument that upon a debtor’s default under the loan documents, title to the rents vests in the secured lender, eliminating any interest the debtor may have held in the rents. See, e.g., In re Soho Retail, LLC , Ch. 11 Case No. 10-15114, Adv. No. 11-1286, 2011 BL 85874 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. Mar. 31, 2011); In re Loco Realty Corp. , No. 09-11785, 2009 BL 137139 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. June 25, 2009). A recent decision by Judge Stong of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York suggests that single asset real estate debtors can successfully defeat these arguments if the bankruptcy court is either willing to look beyond the label of a document to the lender’s post-default actions, or recognize a debtor’s “equitable” interest in postpetition rents as sufficient to render the rents “property of the estate.” See In re S. Side House, LLC , 474 B.R. 391, 406 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2012).
See In re S. Side House, LLC , 474 B.R. 391, 396 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2012) (stating that in order to determine whether postpetition rental income is property of the estate and cash collateral, “the Court must start with New York law, which defines the property interests of borrowers and lenders under assignments of rent, and then consider whether the [d]ebtor’s prepetition property interests in the Rents meets the definition of property of the estate under Bankruptcy Code §541(a)”).
Clear Language of the Bankruptcy Code.
“Accordingly, all post-petition rents are property of the bankruptcy estate. Whiting Pools mandates this result: Until title has transferred, property controlled by a secured creditor, unless subject to an exception, must be turned over to the estate.” In re Amaravathi Ltd. P’ship , 416 B.R. 618, 633 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 2009).
Debtor’s Interest in Rents.
Despite the express language of Bankruptcy Code §541(a)(6), and perhaps recognizing the distinction made by Kenneth N. Klee, courts often focus on determining whether, as of the commencement of the case, a debtor had any legal or equitable interest in the rents under applicable state law. See, e.g., Sovereign Bank v. Schwab , 414 F.3d 450 , 452 (3d Cir. 2005) (“[D]etermining whether the rents here are property of the bankruptcy estate requires an inquiry into whether the debtor had any legal or equitable interests in those rents as of the date of the bankruptcy petition.”); In re Jason Realty, L.P. , 59 F.3d 423 , 426 (3d Cir. 1995) (“Property of the estate consists of all property in which the debtor holds an interest upon the commencement of bankruptcy.” (citing 11 U.S.C. §541(a)(6) )). See also, In re S. Side House, LLC , 474 B.R. 391, 402 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2012) (citing Taub v. Taub (In re Taub) , 427 B.R. 208, 219 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2010) (stating “[w]hether or not a debtor has an interest in property sufficient to bring it within the ambit of ’property of the estate’ is determined by state law or other applicable nonbankruptcy law”).
The determination under state law of what relative rights a secured lender and debtor held prior to the commencement of the bankruptcy case, with respect to rents subject to an assignment of rents, depends (at first glance at least) on whether the assignment of rents “was intended to be for ‘collateral’ or whether it was intended to be an absolute assignment.” David R. Kuney & Alex R. Rovira, The Single Asset Real Estate Case: Basic Principles and Strategies, 60 ( Joel M. Aresty, Am. Bankr. Instit. 2012). Cf. In re S. Side House , 474 B.R. 391, 403 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2012) (“New York courts interpret rent assignment clauses to be additional security even when they contain terms such as ‘absolute’ and ‘unconditional.’ This is because courts look beyond the language used in rent assignment clauses … .”).
Understanding `Collateral’ Versus `Absolute’ Assignments.
Although case law suggests that the label of an assignment of rents is not determinative, and therefore it is a difference without a distinction in the end, debtors and secured lenders should still understand how “absolute” assignments of rents differ from “collateral” assignments of rents. See, e.g., Fin. Ctr. Assocs. of E. Meadow, L.P. v. TNE Funding Corp. (In re Fin. Ctr. Assocs. of E. Meadow, L.P.) , 140 B.R. 829, 832 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 1992). “[A]n absolute assignment of rents operates to transfer the right to [rents to the lender] automatically upon the happening of a specified condition, such as default.” In re Amaravathi Ltd. P’ship , 416 B.R. 618, 630 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 2009) (quoting Taylor v. Brennan , 621 S.W.2d 592 , 293 (Tex. 1981)). Alternatively, a collateral assignment of rents “occurs when the debtor pledges the property’s rents to the mortgage lender as additional security for a loan,” and then, after an event of default occurs, “the lender may assert rights not only to the property subject to the mortgage but also to the rents generated by the mortgage property.” Id. See also, In re S. Side House, LLC , 474 B.R. at 403 (“When an assignment is for additional security, the lender has a lien on the rents, but title to the rents remains with the borrower. But when an assignment is absolute, title to the rents vests in the lender upon execution of the agreement, and the borrower is granted a revocable license to collect the rents that may terminate immediately and permanently upon default.”).
The View of Assignments in New York.
Other states apply the same method of looking beyond the label of an assignment of rents agreement to determine whether it is “absolute” or “given as additional security.” See, e.g., In re Senior Hous. Alt., Inc. , 444 B.R. 386, 392-93 (Bankr. E.D. Tenn. 2011) (holding under Tennessee state law that “an assignment of rents absolute on its face will nevertheless be viewed as a security interest if given in connection with a mortgage loan and not in exchange for a present consideration … .”) (citations omitted); In re Hrapchak , No. 07-1668, 2008 BL 79636 , at *5 (Bankr. N.D. W. Va. Apr. 16, 2008) (holding under West Virginia law that although assignment of rents agreement was labeled “absolute,” after examining the facts and circumstances, “the right to collect rents is given as security and the rents themselves constitute property of the bankruptcy estate”).
Although under New York state law, assignments of rents are generally given as additional security for the loan, and are not “absolute,” two recent decisions out of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in the Second Circuit held that postpetition rents are not property of the estate available as cash collateral because, even though the assignment of rents was “collateral,” the lender’s efforts were sufficient to cut off the debtor’s property interest in the rents prior to the commencement of the case, or because the language of the agreement made it clear that the assignment of rents was “absolute.” See, e.g., In re Soho 25 Retail, LLC , Ch. 11 Case No. 10-15114, Adv. No. 11-1286, 2011 BL 85874 , at *7 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. March 31, 2011) (finding no need to determine whether an “absolute” assignment of rents is permissible under New York law, because regardless, the lender had taken “sufficient affirmative steps” to make the assignment of rents effective). See also, In re Loco Realty Corp. , No. 09-11785, 2009 BL 137139 , at *5-6 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. June 25, 2009) (recognizing most courts in New York find assignments of rents to be collateral, finding assignment of rents agreement was “absolute” in light of clear language labeling it as such, but recognizing that “an absolute assignment of rents prepetition does not necessarily mean that the estate has no interest in the rents for the purposes of §541 analysis”).
Courts Look Beyond Labels.
See Travelers Indem. Co. v. Grant Assocs. (In re Grant Assocs.) , No. M – 47 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 5, 1991) (holding “the finding that the assignment was absolute does not necessarily compel the conclusion … that the [lender] thereby holds more than a security interest in the rents or that [the d]ebtor retains no interest in the rents … .”); In re Charles D. Stapp of Nev., Inc. , 641 F.2d 737 , 740 (S.D.N.Y. 1981) (concluding that notwithstanding an absolute assignment under Georgia law, the debtor retained a residual interest in the rents which were assigned); In re Princeton Overlook Joint Venture , 143 B.R. 625, 633 (Bankr. D.N.J. 1992) (concluding that the mortgagor retained a “collection interest” in the rents, and thus, the rents were part of the bankruptcy estate pursuant to Bankruptcy Code §541). See In re Loco Realty Corp. , No. 09-11785, 2009 BL 137139 , at *6 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. June 25, 2009) (finding absolute assignment of rents to be “absolute” in New York, but recognizing “an absolute assignment of rents prepetition does not necessarily mean that the estate has no interest in the rents for purposes of a §541 analysis”) (citations omitted); Amaravathi Ltd. P’ship , 416 B.R. 618, 637 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 2009) (concluding postpetition rents are property of the estate regardless of whether the assignment of rents was absolute or collateral because “[t]he only difference between such assignments is the fact that the lender must take affirmative steps to ‘activate the ‘collateral’ assignment… . [once the lender takes those affirmative steps], however, the lender’s rights with respect to the debtor and the rents are identical under either type of assignment.”). In re Constable Plaza Assocs., L.P. , 125 B.R. 98, 102-03, 106 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 1991) (holding appointment of receiver prior to commencement of the case “did not cut off all of the debtor’s property interests in the future rents” because “the debtor continues to possess a residual interest in the rents which results in characterizing such rents as property of the estate within the meaning of 11 U.S.C. §541 ”). Some courts will not find that a debtor’s residual interest in property is sufficient to render the rents property of the estate because, according to those courts, if under state law the debtor would not have the right to collect the rents, then in bankruptcy the debtor does not have any greater rights. In re S. Pointe Assocs. , 161 B.R. 224, 227 (Bankr. E.D. Mo. 1993) (rejecting debtor’s argument rents are property of the estate because of debtor’s “residual interest,” where lender acted to activate its rights to collect the rents, and therefore, as of the commencement of the case, under Missouri state law, “the [d]ebtor has no right to the immediate collection of the apartment rents”). It is obvious, but worth highlighting, that if a court finds an assignment of rents agreement is “absolute” and the debtor does not maintain a residual interest in the postpetition rents, then, absent some alternative financing, the debtor’s Chapter 11 single asset real estate case cannot continue.
In sum, depending on the facts, an assignment of rents agreement may not be an impediment to a successful single-asset real estate case, or to using a lender’s cash collateral. The debtor’s chances for success seem to rest on the court’s willingness either to look beyond the label of a document, or to recognize the breadth of “property of the estate,” including a debtor’s “residual” interest in postpetition rents.
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Securing Interests: Navigating the Intricacies of Assignment of Rents in California Real Estate
Steven e. ernest, esq., share this post:.
- November 23, 2023
Your borrower has an income generating property (generally tenants who are paying monthly rent) and is (presumably) collecting it. He isn’t paying you, though. Where is the money going? You ask, and he tells you ghost stories about Wimpy paying for a cheeseburger on Tuesday, but Tuesday never comes. What can you do? As with all things litigation, folks respond to one thing – pressure. You need to gain leverage on him and make it easier for the borrower to do what you want him to do (pay) than it is for him to do what he wants to do (not pay). Gaining that leverage typically requires a lawsuit.
So, sue him! Get a receiver appointed and have the rent paid to you. Suppose that will get the attention of your borrower? I do as well.
I write today to provide a detailed overview of the concept of Assignment of Rents as it pertains to real estate holdings in California. This is a significant aspect for both lenders and property owners, and understanding its implications is crucial for informed decision-making.
1. Definition and Purpose:
Assignment of Rents is a legal mechanism used in real estate where a property owner assigns their right to collect rents from the property to a lender as security for a loan. This arrangement is particularly common in commercial real estate transactions. The primary purpose is to provide additional security to the lender; in the event of a default, the lender has the right to collect rents directly from tenants.
2. Legal Framework in California:
In California, the Assignment of Rents is governed by the California Civil Code § 2938. The statute outlines the conditions and procedures under which rents may be assigned and the rights of both the lender and borrower in such scenarios. It is essential to understand this law balances the interests of lenders, borrowers, and tenants.
3. Activation of Assignment:
Typically, the assignment becomes active (or “absolute”) upon a default by the property owner. Prior to default, the owner usually retains the right to collect and use the rents, often referred to as a “conditional” assignment.
4. Enforcement and Collection:
Upon default (generally, your borrower missing an installment payment), the lender gains the ability to enforce the assignment of rents. This may involve notifying tenants to pay rents directly to the lender or taking legal action to collect the rents (sue your borrower!). The lender’s right to collect rents is subject to existing tenancy agreements and state laws regarding tenant rights.
Your lawsuit will be filed seeking appointment of a receiver (the guy who will collect the rent, deposit them with the Court, which will account them to you). The lawsuit may also include any other causes of action which lie against your borrower (i.e. conversion, judicial foreclosure, breach of contract, breach of guaranty, child support, … whatever). The motion to appoint a receiver will come about one month after filing, and you can expect to begin seeing the rent deposited during the following rent cycle.
5. Implications for Property Owners and Lenders:
For property owners, it’s crucial to understand assigning rents can impact their cash flow and control over the property in case of a default. This is a high leverage proposition. Without their revenue, it is extraordinarily difficult for them to operate. You’ll have their full attention (perhaps for the first time since default). For lenders, while it provides an additional security layer, it also imposes the responsibility of managing rent collection and possibly dealing with tenants directly.
6. Best Practices:
- For Property Owners: Carefully review the terms of any loan agreement that includes an assignment of rents. Consider the implications of default and seek legal advice if necessary.
- For Lenders: Ensure compliance with California law when drafting assignment of rents clauses and enforcing them. Clear communication with borrowers and tenants is key to smooth enforcement. Use counsel who is experienced in these matters. This isn’t an area to experiment with.
The Assignment of Rents is a critical tool in real estate financing in California, offering additional security to lenders while imposing certain obligations and risks. Both lenders and property owners should approach this arrangement with a clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities under California law. Contact the team at Geraci with any questions you may have about Assignment of Rents.
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- Legal Dictionary
Assignment is a legal definition that refers to the transfer of rights, property, or other benefits between two parties. The party allocating the rights is known as the “assignor”, while the one receiving them is called the “assignee”. The other original party to the contract is known as the “ obligor ”.
A burden, duty, or detriment cannot be transferred as an assignment without the agreement of the assignee . Furthermore, the assignment can be carried out as a gift, or it may be paid for with a contractual consideration .
Keep reading to learn how this important legal term is used both in contract and property law and to see relevant examples.
- Assignment Examples
A common example of assignment within property law can be seen in rental agreements between landlords and tenants. For example, a tenant may be renting from a landlord but wants another party to take over the property . In this scenario, the tenant may be able to choose between assigning the lease to a new tenant or subleasing it.
If assigning it, the new tenant will be given the entire balance of the term, with no reversion to anyone else being possible. In other words, the new tenant would have a legal relationship with the landlord. On the other hand, if subleasing the property, the new tenant would be given a limited term and no legal responsibility towards the property owner, only towards the original tenant.
Another example of assignment can be seen within contract law . Let’s say that a school hires a piano teacher for a monthly employment contract with a salary of $2000 per month. As long as there is consent from all parties, the teacher could assign their contract to another qualified piano instructor.
This would be an assignment both of the piano teacher’s rights to receive $2000 per month, and a delegation of their duty to teach piano lessons. This illustrates the fact that under contract law, assignment always includes a transfer of both rights and duties between the parties. If a breach of contract is made by either party, for example for defective performance, then the new teacher or the school can sue each other accordingly.
- Legal Requirements for Assignment
For an assignment to be legally valid, it must meet certain requirements . If these are not met, a trial court can determine that the transfer of rights did not occur. The legal requirements for assignment are as follows:
- All parties must consent and be legally capable to carry out the assignment.
- The objects, rights, or benefits being transferred must be legal.
- The assignment is not against public policy or illegal.
- Some type of consideration is included if necessary.
- The contract in question must already be in place and doesn’t prohibit assignment.
- If a duty is being transferred, and it requires a rare genius or skill, then it cannot be delegated.
- The assignment doesn’t significantly change the expected outcome of a contract.
- Assignment Steps
To successfully assign a contract, certain steps must be followed to ensure the process is legally valid. The necessary assignment steps are listed below:
- Ensuring there is no anti-assignment clause in the contract.
- Executing the assignment by transferring the obligations and rights to a third party.
- Notifying the obligor of the transfer, which in turn relieves the assignor of any liability.
- Avoiding Assignment
In certain situations, one of the two parties may not want to allow their counterpart to assign the contract. This can be prevented by setting anti-assignment clauses in the original contract. An example of this is making it necessary for prior written consent to be attained from the other parties before the assignment is approved. Nevertheless, an anti-assignment clause cannot be included in an assignment that was issued or ordered by a court.
- Assignment vs. Novation
Novation occurs when a party would like to transfer both the benefits and burden of a contract to another party. This is similar to assignment in the sense that the benefits are transferred, but in this case, the burden is also passed on. When novation is finalized, the original contract is deleted and a new one is created, in which a third party becomes responsible for all the obligations and rights of the original contract.
- Assignment vs. Delegation
Although delegation and assignment are similar in purpose, they are two different concepts. Delegation refers to transferring the obligation to a third party without an assignment contract . While in assignment an entire contract and its rights and benefits can be passed on, in delegation only a particular contractual task or activity is transferred.
Let’s look at an example . Lisa is a homeowner that wants to hire Michael with an independent contractor agreement to remodel her garage. He plans to do all the work himself, but he’s not a painter, so he wants to delegate the painting work to his friend Valentina.
In this example, the contract is between Lisa, the obligor, and Michael, the delegator. Valentina would then be known as a delegatee, she doesn’t assume responsibility for the contract nor does she receive the contractual benefits, which in this case would be monetary compensation. However, Michael may have a separate agreement with Valentina to pay her in return for her work.
It’s also important to note that some duties are so specific in nature that it’s not possible to delegate them. In addition, if a party wants to avoid delegation , it’s recommended to add a clause to prevent the other party from delegating their duties.
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A transfer of rights in real property or Personal Property to another that gives the recipient—the transferee—the rights that the owner or holder of the property—the transferor—had prior to the transfer.
An assignment of wages is the transfer of the right to collect wages from the wage earner to his or her creditor. Statutes regulate the extent to which an assignment may be made.
n. the act of transferring an interest in property or a some right (such as contract benefits) to another. It is used commonly by lawyers, accountants, business people, title companies and others dealing with property. (See: assign )
ASSIGNMENT, contracts. In common parlance this word signifies the transfer of all kinds of property, real, personal, and mixed, and whether the same be in possession or in action; as, a general assignment. In a more technical sense it Is usually applied to the transfer of a term for years; but it is more properly used to signify a transfer of some particular estate or interest in lands. 2. The proper technical words of an assignment are, assign, transfer, and set over; but the words grant, bargain, and sell, or any other words which will show the intent of the parties to make a complete transfer, will amount to an assignment. 3. A chose in action cannot be assigned at law, though it may be done in equity; but the assignee takes it subject to all the equity to which it was liable in the hands of the original party. 2 John. Ch. Rep. 443, and the cases there cited. 2 Wash. Rep. 233. 4. The deed by which an assignment is made,, is also called an assignment. Vide, generally, Com. Dig. h.t.; Bac. Ab. h.t. Vin. Ab. h.t.; Nelson's Ab. h.t.; Civ. Code of Louis. art. 2612. In relation to general assignments, see Angell on Assignments, passim; 1 Hate & Wall. Sel. Dec. 78- 85. 5. By an assignment of a right all the accessories which belong to it, will pass with it as, if the assignor of a bond had collateral security, or a lien on property, the collateral security and the lien will pass with the assignment of the bond. 2 Penn. 361; 3 Bibb, 291; 4 B. Munroe, 529; 2 Drev. n. 218; 1 P. St. R. 454. 6. The assignment of a thing also carries with it all that belongs to it by right of accession; if, therefore, the thing produce interest or rent, the interest or the arrearages of the rent since the assignment, will belong to the assignee. 7 John. Cas. 90 6 Pick. 360.
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Opinion ‘Build, baby, build!’: Governors take a walk on housing’s supply side.
If you want a window into what’s on the country’s mind, pay attention to what governors say during their annual state of the state speeches. Last year, the teen mental health crisis was a common theme. This year, more than 20 governors talked to their state legislatures about housing affordability and accessibility. Rent or mortgage payments are the biggest expense in many family budgets. And yet higher interest rates, engineered by the Federal Reserve for the urgent purpose of cooling inflation, have had the negative side effect of making it harder for young people to afford a home.
A cross-country problem
The conventional policy kit focuses on the demand side of the problem: rent controls, eviction moratoriums, direct payments, subsidies for home improvements and mortgage assistance. There can be a limited role for such policies. But as governor after governor acknowledged, there’s a growing recognition that solutions lie primarily on the supply side. Whether there’s an actual shortage of housing in the United States is a matter of debate and definition, but expert estimates suggest improving overall affordability would require increasing the existing stock of about 142 million homes by between 1.7 million to 7.3 million .
The result is a pendulum swing in favor of growth and development. “The rent is too damn high, and we don’t have enough damn housing,” said Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). “Our response will be simple: Build, baby, build!” She set a goal of 75,000 new or refurbished units in five years. She touted a new $1.4 billion state investment in construction. “The single largest threat to our future prosperity is the price of housing,” said Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R), who called for $150 million worth of infrastructure and other spending to support construction of 35,000 starter homes by 2028.
Supply’s the limit
What’s especially interesting about this year’s state of the state speeches, though, is how often governors called not only for more spending but also for fewer regulatory barriers to new private-sector construction: Nine of them did so in one form or another. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) proposed allowing homeowners to rent out accessory dwelling units, better known as granny flats or casitas. He’s also pressing to ease occupancy limits and parking requirements for new construction. “Housing policy that creates more affordable choices for Coloradans is my Roman Empire,” he said. “If you don’t get that joke, feel free to ask someone from Gen Z .”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) wants to lift limits on residential density in New York City, specifically what’s called the floor area ratio. Like Mr. Polis, she also wants to let people turn existing basement and cellar apartments into units they can legally rent out. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) advocated making it easier for developers to convert empty parking lots, half-empty office buildings and abandoned industrial sites into housing. He highlighted 250 new units in Meriden, Conn., that replaced a bankrupt shopping center. “We will cut government red tape that makes it harder to build quality housing,” Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) promised. “We must protect our farmland and wild habitats, but we need to make sure we are also incentivizing housing in places where we should build.”
A red-tape reckoning
Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey (D) calls housing “the biggest challenge we face” and says the shortage has been “decades in the making.” She proposes an Affordable Homes Act to “reduce barriers to housing production and give communities the tools to develop more housing where they need it.” Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) asked his Democratic-supermajority legislature to revisit a 1970 law that makes construction expensive and slow by requiring a public, quasi-judicial process for reviewing and managing the environmental, social and fiscal consequences of development. “It was enacted at a time when we were growing way too fast,” he said. “Today we face a different reality — one where families desperately need homes.”
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced a new Office of Housing as a one-stop shop for contractors seeking permits and asked the legislature to condition state aid to local governments on their adoption of development-friendly zoning and permitting requirements. For their part, red states also continue trying to speed up reviews, inspections and permits. “Legislation about permitting may not sound like front-page news,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R). “But just take it from someone who spent 35 years in the construction industry: A bureaucratic permitting process is bad for everybody but the government.”
The country’s pressing housing needs cannot wait for a deadlocked Washington to act. Fortunately, the states — the proverbial laboratories of our democracy — are launching their own experiments.
The Post’s View | About the Editorial Board
Editorials represent the views of The Post as an institution, as determined through discussion among members of the Editorial Board , based in the Opinions section and separate from the newsroom.
Members of the Editorial Board: Opinion Editor David Shipley , Deputy Opinion Editor Charles Lane and Deputy Opinion Editor Stephen Stromberg , as well as writers Mary Duenwald, Shadi Hamid , David E. Hoffman , James Hohmann , Heather Long , Mili Mitra , Eduardo Porter , Keith B. Richburg and Molly Roberts .
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