Real Estate Disputes are as old as real estate itself. Whether you’re a property owner, a board member of a condominium, a property manager, or a commercial developer, you will likely find yourself staring down a real estate dispute at some time. Although there are conflicts in real estate that need a court order for resolution, the reality is, when done right, a real estate dispute and mediation experience with a seasoned legal professional is often all that is needed to come to a meeting of the minds and a conclusion.
The following narrative details real estate disputes occurring during a purchase and sale and those that commonly occur as a property owner after the sale is complete.
Common Disputes During a Purchase & Sale Transaction
Breach of Contract
A contract of sale for real estate is a legally enforceable, binding contract. Most purchase agreements are bilateral contracts in which both parties have certain obligations to meet the terms of the deal. There are countless details delineated in a contract – and no two contracts are identical. Provisions to the agreement may include acceptable financing terms, the date of closing, or the date of occupancy, to name a few.
If either party fails to honor their obligations, in part or at all, detailed in the purchase and sale agreement, one party may choose to sue for breach of contract because the other party failed to meet the contract’s terms.
Failing to Disclose a Property Defect
Most state laws mandate that a property seller proactively disclose known defects to the house/property that are not apparent and might impact property value. If, after closing, the new owner/buyer discovers a defect that was not appropriately disclosed pursuant to jurisdictional law, they may pursue legal action against the previous owner/seller.
Of course, the new owner (now, plaintiff) has a legal obligation to prove that the seller (now defendant) either knew about the defect and proactively chose to hide it or should have reasonably known about the defect as the property owner. The list of property defects is, unfortunately vast, but includes these more common issues –
- Damage or a hole in the roof
- Undetected mold
- Improper permits for construction and home improvements, among others.
Specific Performance Failure
Litigation in the real estate realmLitigation in the real estate realm happens when one party to the contract fails to meet the obligations denoted in the purchase agreement. The lawsuit by the injured party can compel the other party to comply with the purchase agreement’s terms and conditions. If you are the defendant in a matter such as this, it is crucial to speak with a real estate dispute and mediation attorney to help create the best possible outcome – whether you can or cannot fulfill the contract’s terms.
Note, however, that a provision in the contract may limit/prohibit one party’s ability to request specific performance in a specific situation.
Real Estate Disputes During Home Ownership
The real estate legal issues noted below represent those that occur most often when you have become a homeowner. However, note that many of these examples may also occur during the purchase or sale.
Property lines are often the cause of a real estate dispute and may happen because –
- Current owners or neighboring properties have implemented a property line inconsistent with how the property line is legally registered.
- The property lines & boundaries have been registered incorrectly, among others.
Boundary issues and disputes often involve planting trees, outbuilding placements, fencing, or the removal of shrubs and trees, to name a few. These real estate disputes can be avoided by having a real estate attorney thoroughly research the property’s legal boundaries before consummating the deal. The research results provide the attorney with information about potential boundary issues.
Easements are a fancy legal term that offers someone a nonpossessory-specific right to access the property. Easements are not always recorded (and may even be implied). But when they are registered/recorded at the local county clerk, the easement converts to a claim on the title – or an encumbrance. An easement differs from a lien as it is a claim against a property by someone who has no ownership.
A granted easement allows another to access the property without the owner’s permission and in ways that an owner may have an issue with. Easements are likely to be more common than most consumers realize as they are granted by –
- Deed Restrictions
- Right of Ways
- Liens, etc.
Trespass simply involves some sort of interference with possession (or an infringement of a right) of real property – usually marked by intent. Trespassing laws may be criminal or civil. These real estate disputes require great care and a skilled real estate lawyer as they typically evoke a strong emotional response by both parties.
Ready to Speak with a Real Estate Dispute & Mediation Legal Specialist?
A real estate attorney can help you to the best possible outcome, given the situation, whether you are the defendant or the defendant in a real estate dispute.
Review What Are The Most Common Real Estate Disputes?.