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President Reagan's wealthy friends who are buying a California estate for him to occupy probably could give it to him without violating conflict-of-interest laws, according to the Office of Government Ethics.

The opinion confirms that industrialists Holmes Tuttle and Earle Jorgensen are among the 20 or so businessmen who purchased a $2.5 million home for the Reagans to live in when they leave the White House next year.The July 31, 1986, letter was written in response to a request from private attorneys who wanted to determine whether the arrangement would be ethically appropriate. It was made available to The Associated Press Tuesday by a Washington law firm.

The Reagans began paying rent under a three-year lease that took effect March 1 with an option to buy the house eventually. The White House says Reagan and his wife Nancy will pay fair-market rent for the property.

The opinion letter notes that criminal conflict-of-interest laws don't apply to the president.

The house is in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles, about 12 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.