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I discovered that the border between two cities runs through an apartment that I am renting. There are two official parcels, one in one city (City A) and one in another (City B), they are both in the same county in California. The building straddles the line between the two cities.

  1. My living room is in City A and my Bedroom is in City B

  2. My mailing address is in City B but the Entrance is in City A

  3. There are two tax assessments, same address number, different city.

What does this situation mean for me in terms of

  1. Which tenant laws apply to me
  2. Where I register to vote

Additionally, in this situation, which address should be listed on a lease agreement. The real property address (entrance) or the effective mailing address.

  • 6
    Here's a somewhat related (though about a commercial, not residential property) article: npr.org/sections/money/2014/08/28/343430393/… about a mall in the same situation, where the 2 cities have different minimum wages, and stores end up paying employees differently depending on where in the mall they are located. – PhilippNagel Jun 5 at 13:09
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    There's a famous library that straddles the border between northern Vermont in the US and Quebec in Canada. The employees must cross an international border many times daily just doing their jobs. Imagine how complicated that must be from a legal perspective. – Darrel Hoffman Jun 5 at 14:47
  • So do you pay two lots of local taxes? – Darren Jun 5 at 15:44
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    This sort of situation makes you question the whole rationale of a law that's different a few meters over there. – Dan Dascalescu Jun 7 at 0:28
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The location of your residence entrance is irrelevant for the law, what matters most is your "street address", i.e. mailing address. That is the address (therefore city) that you use for voter registration, and basically how you identify "where I live". If you lives 5 miles out in the country in an unincorporated area, you'd still use Needles (e.g.) as you mailing address: but you would not be able to vote for a mayor of Needles, just based on your mailing address.

Both municipalities might claim jurisdiction based on the physical location of the property, especially for matters of building code. It should not be possible for both municipalities to tax the full value of your property, but they could split the assessment proportionally. The cities themselves are not collecting the tax, the county is (though property straddling a county line raises an interesting question).

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    It’s interesting that the mailing address doesn’t match the entrance - I seem to remember that in Baarle-Hertog (en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baarle-Nassau), someone changed the location of their front door to change their residential country. – Tim Jun 6 at 0:52
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That's a fascinating circumstance, but I would say it has limited bearing on you as a tenant, except for a couple of issues. I say this because landlord-tenant laws in most U.S. jurisdictions are a matter of state law, and litigation is handled at the county level.

Exceptions that might apply are city-level ordinances, such as safety requirements; some cities have additional requirements for landlords.

Another issue (that you raise) is properly identifying the property at issue in the lease. Ambiguity can kill any contract, including a lease. In most residential leases a mailing address or 911 address is sufficient, but it may be helpful to add additional identifying information in this case (county tax parcel ID(s), for example).

I'm sure there are other issues, some may not even be foreseeable.

I look forward to hearing more experienced voices offer opinions.

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    A number of big cities have substantial jurisdiction-specific restriction on rental property, for example NYC, Seattle, Santa Monica. It is highly likely that there are applicable differences in this instance. Ambiguity does not kill contracts – rescission is the last resort. A mailing address is not ambiguous: postal boundaries are not the same as municipal boundaries – they refer roughly to the nearest post office. – user6726 Jun 4 at 18:48

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