In general, remedies are the relief sought by a person, people, group or organization in a civil legal lawsuit. Civil lawsuits include breach of contract cases. A court may impose a remedy, in order to enforce rights that have been infringed upon in such matters. Courts typically impose legal remedies to put the non-breaching party in a position as if the agreement between parties actually occurred.

Monetary relief is a common example of a legal remedy. Parties that breach an agreement may have to pay a court ordered monetary penalty to compensate the non-breaching party for their losses and/or to punish the breaching party.

In some instances involving real estate lawsuits, which are typically breach of contract matters, a judge may determine that a legal remedy is not the best solution. Instead, a judge may impose an equitable remedy to resolve the real estate lawsuit. The underlying notion with equitable remedies is rooted in fairness. Equitable remedies include: specific performance, restitution and injunctions.

What are Examples of Specific Performance?

Specific performance is an equitable remedy wherein a court orders a breaching party to perform a specific act in accordance with a contract. For example, if a homeowner has a binding contract to sell their home to another party and subsequently the potential purchaser backs out and does not want to buy the home, a court will look to the terms of the contract and decide whether or not to impose specific performance.

Many real estate contracts include provisions for such matters wherein the potential buyer agrees to put down an earnest money amount in case they back out of the sale. A court will look at the original agreement to determine if it is a valid agreement and also, if it exists, take under consideration the terms of the earnest money agreement. Real estate contracts also commonly include a contingency period that allows for potential purchasers to back out of a real estate contract during a certain period of time, if various conditions are not met.

The specific performance of going forth with the sale of property may not be an option in real estate matters if a valid alternative, such as the existence of earnest money, already exists as a remedy in breach of real estate matters. It is up to a judge’s discretion to determine whether specific performance is an appropriate remedy.

What are Examples of Restitution?

Restitution, generally, means to restore something to its original or pre-existing condition. In real estate contract disputes, wherein a contract is voided, the non-breaching party basically wants to be compensated for their lost time and money. A court must examine the validity of the contract involved. Real estate breach matters are determined on a case-by-case basis. The non-breaching party can only be compensated for a fair amount of restitution.

What are Examples of an Injunction?

Injunctions are another equitable remedy available in real estate lawsuit matters. Injunctions are typically imposed upon parties to have them stop from doing something. If a party refuses to comply with an injunction, they may be held in contempt of court and risk going to prison.

A court may impose an injunction if, for example, a selling party agrees to sell a parcel of land to an individual and subsequently accepts and pursues an offer from a third-party purchaser. In this example, a court may impose an injunction for the sale of the property to the third-party.

What Happens if There is a Breach of Contract?

Contracts, such as real estate agreements, sometimes result in disputes amongst the parties. Contracts are legally binding agreements between at least two parties. In order for contracts to be considered binding and valid, some essential elements must exist, including:

  • A valid offer;
  • Acceptance of that offer;
  • The parties agree to all the terms of the contract;
  • The terms of the contract are clear; and
  • Consideration must exist, which means each party must provide something to the other party.

Valid contracts can be verbal or written. If an agreement has all the aforementioned elements, it is considered to be valid. If a party to the contract does not fulfill their end of the bargain, a breach, or violation of the contract occurs. Contract disputes between the parties involved can result in and be resolved by mediation, arbitration or lawsuits.

Should I Call a Real Estate Attorney?

Real estate lawsuits are complex matters that can be timely and expensive and thus have lifelong impacts on the parties involved. It is important to discuss your real estate matters with a knowledgeable, local real estate attorney that is familiar with all the remedies available. A real estate attorney can assist you and explain all remedies, including equitable remedies, available to you in your real estate matter.