Real estate and property laws govern a wide range of topics, including the following related to residential or commercial property:
- Using; and
Common real estate and property law disputes which arise include:
- Establishing property title and boundary lines;
- Landlord and tenant disputes; and
- Zoning or land use issues.
Real estate and property laws also govern the financial aspects related to real property, including:
In addition, wills and trust laws may also interact with real estate and property law. This body of law can also be considered a minor subtopic of estate law.
For more information on real estate and property laws, see the following LegalMatch articles:
- Buying or Selling Property;
- Real Estate Brokers;
- Home Mortgage Disclosure Act;
- Buyer’s Duties;
- Duties of the Landlord and Tenant in Residential Property; and
- Implied Warranty of Habitability.
What is Commercial Real Estate Law?
Commercial real estate laws govern the sale and transfer of property for business purposes. In numerous cases, property is purchased and sold for commercial use.
Commercial real estate law also govern other issues, including:
- Commercial leases;
- Property and land use;
- Liquor licensing; and
- Zoning issues.
For example, most state and local laws prohibit business activities in residential issues as well as vice versa. Because of this, commercial real estate laws also regulate how property can be used in certain sectors of town versus in other areas.
How Will a Mortgage Affect Me?
Many individuals seek financing using a mortgage either to purchase real property or to afford improvements on property an individual already owns. Similar to other types of debt, it is similar for individuals who are interested in a mortgage to be aware of the nature and the offers of a lending institution.
A mortgage loan is often secured by a mortgage on the residence or commercial property. If an individual fails to make payments, it may result in foreclosure.
What about Dangerous Property or Buildings?
A property owner owes a duty of care to whomever visits their property. In general, this duty is to keep the premises and visitors safe.
If an individual owns a building, property, or structure that is dangerous and an individual who visits that property is injured, the property owner may be liable. Any property or building which a property owner has control over can be labeled as a dangerous structure.
In addition, dangerous property may include issues such as a hazardous waste spill. A dangerous structure often becomes dangerous as a result of daily wear and tear or a lack of maintenance.
A property owner has a duty to keep their property safe and maintained, whether the property is residential or commercial. Examples of residential structures which can be considered dangerous include:
- Balconies, decks, and porches;
- Staircases and elevators; or
- Handrails and other support beams.
Examples of commercial structures which may be considered dangerous can include:
- Overhead lighting;
- Overhead shelves;
- Product displays; or
- Faulty doors, such as automatic doors.
A business may also own an additional duty of care to its employees to provide a safe and nonhazardous work environment.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the agency that is responsible for ensuring safety at work for employees. OSHA is permitted to conduct inspections of any workplaces.
In addition, OSHA has the power to enforce its standards. This means that they are permitted to fine any business that does not meet their standards.
For more information on dangerous property or buildings, see the following LegalMatch articles:
- What is Considered a Dangerous Property or Building?;
- Do I Have to Disclose the My Property is Dangerous to a Buyer?;
- What’s an Attractive Nuisance?; and
- Limitations on Recovery for Slip and Fall or Premises Liability Injuries.
What is Eminent Domain or Condemnation?
Pursuant to the Constitution of the United States, the government is permitted to take and utilize property for a public purpose if they provide the owner with just compensation. In general, federal and state governments have delegated this power of eminent domain to local governments as well as municipalities.
Condemnation is a process by which private property is taken for public use. Before the property is taken, it is considered condemned.
Condemnation means that a property is marked for modification or destruction in order to use the plot of land for public use. An example of a condemnation would include if a residential home or homes are cleared to create a wildlife reservation.
In these types of situations, residences are condemned so that the land they sit on can serve the public as a more natural environment.
For more information on eminent domain and condemnation, see the following LegalMatch articles:
- What is Eminent Domain?;
- Why Does the Government Have the Power of Eminent Domain?;
- Are Tenants Entitled to Compensation if their Leased Property is Taken?; and
- Resolution of Necessity.
What is a Property Exchange?
A property exchange is a legal alternative to a regular purchase or sale of property that provides a taxpayer or property owner with an income tax break. The proceeds of any sale of property are subject to taxation by the United States government.
A property exchange, however, allows an individual to trade one property for another. This eliminates any taxable gains from the transaction.
For more information on property exchanges, see the following LegalMatch articles:
- Different Types of Real Estate and Property Exchanges;
- Like-Kind Exchange;
- Deferred Like-Kind Exchanges;
- 1031 Exchanges; and
- Boot and Qualified Intermediaries.
What are Title and Boundary Disputes?
Title disputes usually involve two adjoining landowners who disagree over which party actually owns the piece of property. In other words, the property owners dispute who has the title to that piece of land.
A boundary dispute generally occurs when there are two adjoining landowners who disagree regarding where the line between their pieces of property run. A boundary dispute may arise when one property owner desires to make a change to their own property.
In a boundary dispute, the other property owner, often a neighbor, disputes the neighbor’s right to make the desired change by claiming that it would infringe upon their property. For more information on title and boundary disputes, see the following LegalMatch articles:
- Finding Property Boundary Lines;
- What’s a Marketable Title?;
- What Does “Color of Title” Mean?;
- Title Insurance;
- Title Searching;
- Easements; and
- Terminating an Easement.
What is Zoning, Planning, and Land Use?
Zoning is a concept used by local governments to attempt to create uniform neighborhoods and uniform land uses in certain areas. Zoning is accomplished by controlling how property owners are permitted to use their property as well as what they are permitted to build on their property.
A master plan or general plan of a locality provides the purpose for the zoning and land use ordinances which are enacted by the locality. Generally, zoning ordinances are required to conform to the general plan in the locality.
Land use plans determine how land is to be improved, allotted, or used by government or private entities. These types of plans may be implemented in order to ensure that zoning ordinances are followed.
For more information on zoning, planning, and land use, see the following LegalMatch articles:
- Things You Should Know About Zoning, Planning, and Land Use;
- What Is the Difference Between Zoning and Planning?;
- Types of Zoning;
- Conditional Use Permits;
- Challenging A Zoning Ordinance; and
- How To File For A Variance.
Should I Hire an Attorney for Help with Issues Involving Real Estate and Property Law?
Real estate and property law issues are often complex and involve multiple areas of law. In addition, the rules may vary by state or municipality.
In most cases, a real estate venture involves a large financial investment. Because of this, when you are dealing with real estate and property law issues, it is important to have the assistance of a real estate lawyer.
Your lawyer can provide advice related to your specific legal issue as well as advise you of the laws of your area. Your lawyer can prepare any legal documents related to purchasing or selling property.
In addition, if any disputes arise related to your property transaction, your lawyer can assist you in taking any necessary legal action as well as represent you in court.