Why do I need a lawyer?
Disputes can sometimes arise between buyers and sellers, co-owners, neighbors, and other parties involved in real estate transactions or who have an interest in real estate. Some disputes are easy to resolve, while others may look simple but turn out to be more complicated.
Below are three common types of real estate disputes that can lead to court action.
PartitionWhen a parcel of real estate has two or more owners who cannot agree on an important aspect about the parcel (such as whether to lease it out, sell it, develop it, etc.), one of the owners can ask a court to divide the parcel or to sell the parcel and distribute the proceeds to the owners. Division may be appropriate when the parcel is just empty land. But structures (such as houses, apartments, warehouses, and the like) are not usually divisible.
When division is impracticable, selling the parcel and dividing the proceeds may be appropriate. There are times, however, when selling is not appropriate. And even if a parcel is sold, when should it be sold, how should it be sold, and how much should each owner receive from the proceeds? These are just some of the issues relevant to a partition with which an attorney can assist.
Disclosure disputesSellers of real estate have certain obligations to share known information with purchasers of real estate. And purchasers of real estate also have certain obligations to investigate aspects that are important to them. Buyers and sellers typically have real estate professionals assisting them with the transaction, which should increase the probability that the transaction proceeds smoothly. Nonetheless, disputes can arise between buyers and sellers regarding information that may or may not have been disclosed as part of the transaction. Special situations can also arise when a buyer or seller represents themselves in the transaction, when the seller has not occupied the real estate in question, or when the issues in question predated the seller’s tenancy of the premises. Whether you are the buyer and believe certain information was not disclosed to you, or whether you are the seller of property whose buyer believes certain information was not disclosed, disclosure disputes can be costly. An attorney can help you assess the situation and advise you on a course of action.
Title disputesThe word “title” is shorthand for the bundle of rights which an owner of real estate has. One right is to occupy or possess the land in question. Another is to control what happens on the land. Yet another is to exclude non-owners from the land. And yet another to include non-owners by giving them the right to visit or to temporarily occupy the land (commonly known as a “lease”). Additional rights exist, and most if not all of these rights can be temporarily or permanently conveyed to others, so long as such conveyance is properly performed.
Although “title” rights may sound absolute, sometimes they are not. In other words, sometimes restrictions exist that limit the rights of a landowner. For example, easements are limitations on an owner’s use of their land for the benefit of others: such as an access road for a neighbor, railroad tracks for a railroad across your land, subsurface sewer lines underneath your land to connect another neighbor’s parcel to the main sewer line, and so on. Other examples are covenants, conditions, and restrictions on parcels of land located in planned communities. These are typically called “CC&Rs,” and usually come into play in disputes with homeowner associations (i.e., HOAs). Other situations may cause issues with or limitations to one or more rights of a titleholder, including liens, negative servitudes, and other encumbrances.
Title disputes can take many shapes and sizes, and can often become complicated. Sometimes title issues are not discovered until you try to refinance your property or sell it, in which case time is not on your side. Rather than losing time trying to solve the problem on your own, it’s a good idea to have an attorney assist you.