Purchasing or selling a home or a commercial piece of property can be one of the most important personal and financial commitments individuals or businesses can make. Because of this, it is extremely important to know exactly what is being bought, in terms of:
- Title; and
- The condition of the premises.
Real estate laws provide protections for numerous parties, including:
- Land owners;
- Real estate agents; and
During a real estate transaction, it is important for the sale and purchase documents to be well-written so that future problems or delays may be avoided. In some cases, legal issues may arise when the parties to a real estate transaction have a dispute.
Real estate litigation may involve many issues, including:
What is a Real Estate Claim?
Real estate claims are claims which are filed in a court of law to settle a dispute, conflict, or mistake related to real estate. The claim must typically be filed in the jurisdiction in which the property is located.
A real estate claim may, in some cases, take a long time to resolve, depending on the type of claim and the number of parties who are involved. Examples of parties that may be involved in real estate claims may include:
- The property owners;
- The lender and borrower in a loan agreement;
- A local or state government body;
- A property appraiser; and
- Various mortgage personnel.
Do I Have a Real Estate Case?
Legal issues involving real estate may come in many forms and may arise from many different types of situations. Certain real estate issues can be resolved by using mediation, negotiation, or other types of dispute resolution methods.
Some real estate issues, however, require a court ruling to resolve, especially in cases where the parties are unable to come to an agreement on their issue. These types of cases are based upon the legitimate need of both parties to have their issues decided.
An example of this type of case is one where issues arise regarding the title to a home or with the official boundary lines of a property. There are also other types of real estate issues which may not have a clear resolution readily available.
This may include disputes regarding differences in the valuation of a home or differences regarding contract terms. No matter the type of case, a real estate lawsuit should be based upon a legitimate legal dispute rather than upon an imaginary or invented issue.
What Are Some Common Real Estate Issues to Look Out For?
There are several different common real estate issues which often form the basis for valid lawsuits, including:
- Mortgage issues;
- Illegal real estate fees;
- Boundary disputes with neighbors;
- Problems involving public utilities;
- Issues with title to the property;
- Issues with second loans or refinancing;
- Foreclosed home proceedings; and
- Disputes involving the valuation of the home.
It is important to note that certain real estate disputes may require other parties to be involved, such as:
- Home inspectors;
- Insurance companies; and
- Mortgage companies.
What are Some Tips to Know About Buying or Selling Property?
There are some general key terms and tips that individuals will find useful to know when they are involved with a purchase or sale of property, including:
- A broker;
- Disclosures; and
- Buyer’s duties.
Purchasing and selling property is typically accomplished using an agent which is commonly known as a real estate broker. A broker is an individual who helps find property to purchase or who assists an owner with selling their property. Brokers also manage paperwork which is involved with the property transaction.
When an individual is selling their home or property, they are required to reveal all of the defects with the property that they are aware of, including structural or electrical problems. This duty to disclose is known as disclosure of material defects or disclosure.
Usually, potential purchasers of property have the right to inspect the property prior to closing for any potential defects or any zoning issues. Additionally, a purchaser should check to see if other mortgages or liens exist on the property. Buyers can find this information at their local county recorder’s office.
If an individual is renting a property, it is important for them to be aware of the duties that landlords owe to tenants, including:
- Duty to delivery possession; and
- The implied covenant of quiet enjoyment.
Habitability, or the implied warranty of habitability, means that a landlord guarantees that a property is livable, or habitable, and that they regularly maintain the property in order to keep it in good shape. This duty includes a requirement that the landlord repairs any issues which arise, such as heating issues or plumbing issues.
Landlords must also conform to ordinances. This means that landlords must guarantee that their property conforms to state laws as well as city laws.
Depending on the jurisdiction, landlords, in general, have a duty to deliver possession of the premises to a tenant. This means providing the tenant with the keys and ensuring that no other individuals live in the unit.
The implied covenant of quiet enjoyment refers to the rights of a tenant not to have their landlord interfere with their use of the premises. This includes making the property uninhabitable or trying to wrongfully evict the tenant in some manner.
It is important to be aware that tenants also owe duties when they are renting a property. Tenants are required to:
- Pay rent in a timely manner in accordance with the terms of the lease;
- Follow any rules or restrictions listed within the lease, such as, no pets, no loud noise, etc.;
- Not to use the premises for an illegal purpose, such as, dealing drugs or gambling in states where it is illegal; and
- Make ordinary repairs and upkeep to the property, such as, not vandalizing the apartment and alerting the landlord if there is an issue with the plumbing, etc.
If a tenant fails to adhere to the terms of their lease, it may result in a breach of their contract and may lead them to:
- Lose their security deposit;
- Subject them to further money damages; and
- May even cause them to face eviction.
What Other Areas of Law Are Involved with Real Estate Lawsuits?
In addition to involving multiple parties, certain real estate lawsuits may also involve other categories of legal issues in addition to real estate law issues. For example, a real estate lawsuit may involve:
- Tax issues;
- Wills and estates transfers;
- Consumer fraud;
- Criminal issues, especially for fraud or white-collar crime; and
- Family law, which is common in divorce cases.
Because of this, if an individual has any legal issues in one area of law, they may want to check and see if or how it will affect their property rights as well as their real estate interests.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Real Estate Case?
It is essential to have the assistance of a property lawyer for any issues, questions, or concerns you may have related to a real estate case. Some real estate cases may be very complicated.
Your attorney can review your issue, advise you of the local laws, and determine if you have a claim. If you do have a claim, your attorney can assist you with completing alternative dispute resolution or filing a lawsuit to settle the issue, if necessary.