Real Estate and Property Law includes a wide range of topics, such as buying, selling, using, and leasing residential or commercial property. Common Real Estate and Property Law disputes involve establishing property title and boundary lines, landlord and tenant disputes, and zoning/land use issues. Real estate and property law also comprises the financing aspects of property, such as mortgages, liens, and foreclosures.
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Buying or Selling Property
- Brokers: Buying and selling property is usually done through real estate brokers. Brokers are people who help people find properties, help owners sell property, and help with all the paperwork involved with property transactions.
- Disclosure: If you are selling a home, you must be sure to reveal all the property's defects you are aware of, such as structural or electrical problems. This duty is called "disclosure" or "disclosure of material defects".
- Buyer's Duties: Generally, a potential buyer of property has a right to inspect the property before closing for any potential defects or zoning issues. Additionally, buyers should check to see if there are any mortgages or liens on the property. This check can be done at the county recorder's office.
Duties of the Landlord and Tenant in Residential Property
The landlord owes the tenant several duties, including:
- Habitability: The landlord guarantees the property is habitable, which means it is in good shape by regularly maintaining the property and repairing any problems that arise, also known as an "implied warranty of habitability".
- Ordinances: The landlord guarantees the property conforms to city and state laws.
As a tenant you must:
- Pay rent on time in accordance with the lease.
- Follow any rules or restrictions in the lease (i.e. no pets, no nuisance, etc.). Failing follow the terms of the lease results in a breach and could lead to losing your security deposit, monetary damages, or even eviction.
Does My Property Have to Conform to Local Zoning Ordinances?
Most localities have a Planning or Zoning committee that regulates land use. When this committee passes a zoning ordinance, all properties in the locality must follow them unless one of the following exceptions applies:
- Variance: You can apply for a variance, which means that your property would be excused from conforming to the ordinance. The zoning committee has discretion over whether the variance will be granted.
- Non-Conforming Use: When a new zoning ordinance prohibits using property in a certain way, owners that have already been using their property in that way can continue to do so despite the new ordinance
Should I Hire an Attorney?
Real estate ventures represent large financial investments and can be affected by a wide range of complicated legal issues. If you have legal questions about your real estate or property holdings, consult an experienced real estate attorney today!