Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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At issue in this case was the validity of an easement that Thomas Carnahan claimed extended over property owned by Keven and Marlene Windel. In addition, there were issues surrounding damage allegedly caused by improvements within that easement. Carnahan won at trial in "Windel I," but the Supreme Court remanded the case for reconsideration of attorney fee issues. On remand, the superior court awarded Carnahan feed, finding that he was the prevailing party. The Windels appealed again, arguing the superior court erred in its analysis of Rule 68 when awarding Carnahan attorney fees. Finding no reversible error in the resolution of the fee dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Windel v. Carnahan" on Justia Law

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In 1985, South Alabama Sewer Service, Inc. ("SASS"), and Lake View Developers, Ltd. ("Lake View"), entered into an agreement where SASS would construct a sewer line from its waste-treatment facility to a new planned subdivision and golf course ("Lake View Estates). In 1989, Lake View filed for bankruptcy. The development and golf course, excluding lots that had already been sold, were placed in receivership. 1991, SASS and Lakeview Realty entered into a new sewer agreement. In July 2003, Baldwin County Sewer Service, LLC ("BCSS"), purchased from SASS the sewer lines and sewer facilities servicing Lake View Estates. In 2004, BCSS purchased all the stock of SASS. Subsequent to BCSS's purchase of SASS and its facilities in Baldwin County, all monthly sewer fees related to Lake View Estates had been billed by and paid to BCSS. Sometime following its acquisition of SASS's sewer system, BCSS enacted a rate increase affecting customers in Lake View Estates. In 2014, multiple homeowner associations whose members were property owners in Lake View Estates, sued BCSS, generally asserting that BCSS had violated the sewer-service-rate provision of the 1991 agreement. The associations lost at trial on grounds that they lacked standing to sue to enforce the 1991 agreement. The Supreme Court disagreed, reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "The Gardens at Glenlakes Property Owners Association, Inc., et al. v. Baldwin County Sewer Service, LLC" on Justia Law

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The parties in this case, neighboring landowners, disputed the ownership of Church Lane, an old road or passway in Gallatin County. Appellee argued that the road was owned by the County or, alternatively, was a public road. Appellants contended that the road was their private property. The circuit court determined that Church Lane was a private road. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that Church Lane was a public road. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court correctly determined that Church Lane had been discontinued as a public road, and the eastern portion of the road reverted back to Appellants as a private road. View "Kentucky Props. Holding LLC v. Sproul" on Justia Law

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In 2004, the prior owner of certain property acquired title to the property and granted a deed of trust on the property to Bank of America. The City of Portsmouth subsequently created the New Port Community Development Authority (CDA), which included the property at issue. In 2006, the CDA authorized the issuance of special assessment bonds, and the City enacted an ordinance establishing special assessments on properties in the CDA district. The prior owner subsequently subdivided the property and sold individual lots. In 2011, Bank of America sold the notes it held to Plaintiff and assigned it the deed of trust. Following the prior owner’s default, the property was foreclosed upon, and Plaintiff was the successful bidder. Plaintiff then filed suit, claiming that the special assessment lien was extinguished by the foreclosure sale and that the special assessments should be declared void because no CDA bond funds remained to construct additional improvements. The circuit court dismissed the complaint with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a special assessment lien has priority over a deed of trust that was recorded before the special assessments, and therefore, Virginia law foreclosed Plaintiff’s challenge. View "Cygnus Newport-Phase 1B, LLC v. City of Portsmouth" on Justia Law

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In this appeal, the issue presented for the New Mexico Supreme Court's review centered on the scope of the New Mexico State Engineer’s regulatory authority over use of surface water in New Mexico when it has been diverted from the Animas River into an acequia in Colorado and accessed from that ditch by Petitioners and others in New Mexico. After review, the Court rejected petitioners’ arguments that the State Engineer lacked statutory authority over waters initially diverted outside of New Mexico and had no jurisdiction to enjoin petitioners from irrigating an area of farmland not subject to an existing adjudicated water right or a permit from the State Engineer. The Court held that the State Engineer was authorized by New Mexico law to require a permit for new, expanded, or modified use of this water and to enjoin any unlawful diversion. View "State Engineer v. Diamond K Bar Ranch, LLC" on Justia Law

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American Family Mutual Insurance Company (AFM) sought review of a Court of Appeals decision upholding the trial court's judgment in a garnishment proceeding requiring AFM to pay a judgment that plaintiffs FountainCourt Homeowners’ Association and FountainCourt Condominium Owners’ Association (FountainCourt) had obtained against AFM’s insured, Sideco, Inc. (Sideco). The underlying dispute centered on a housing development that was constructed between 2002 and 2004 in Beaverton. FountainCourt sued the developers and contractors seeking damages for defects in the construction of the buildings in the development. Sideco, a subcontractor, was brought in as a third-party defendant, and a jury eventually determined that Sideco’s negligence caused property damage to FountainCourt’s buildings. Based on that jury verdict, the trial court entered judgment against Sideco in the amount of $485,877.84. FountainCourt then served a writ of garnishment on AFM in the amount owed by Sideco, and, in response, AFM denied that the loss was covered by its policies. The trial court ultimately entered judgment against AFM, after deducting the amounts that had been paid by other garnishees. After review, the Supreme Court found no reversible error in the court of Appeals' judgment and affirmed the courts below. View "FountainCourt Homeowners v. FountainCourt Develop." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Pat Blair brought an action alleging that a conveyance of real property from her grandmother to her sister, the defendant-appellee Gayle Richardson (grantee), was void because the grandmother (grantor) lacked legal competency and because the deed was executed under undue influence. The trial court ruled in favor of Richardson on both theories of recovery. The Court of Civil Appeals reversed, concluding that the grantor was rendered legally incompetent by operation of 43A O.S. 1961 section 64. Richardson appealed. Finding no reversible error in the appellate court's judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Blair v. Richardson" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority (NHHFA), appealed a superior court decision to grant summary judgment in favor of respondent Pinewood Estates Condominium Association (Pinewood), and to award attorney’s fees to Pinewood. The trial court ruled that, pursuant to Pinewood’s condominium declaration, NHHFA was responsible for paying condominium assessments that were accrued by the previous owner of a unit NHHFA purchased at a foreclosure sale, and that Pinewood was not obligated to provide common services to the unit until all assessments were paid. Because the Supreme Court concluded that the Condominium Act, RSA chapter 356-B (2009 & Supp. 2015), operated to bar Pinewood’s claim for unpaid pre-foreclosure condominium assessments, it reversed and remanded. View "New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority v. Pinewood Estates Condominium Association" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Maher Mahmoud appealed a superior court order granting defendants Winwin Properties, LLC (Winwin), Gary T. Shulman, Anita S. Shulman, Aaron Katz, and Jeremy Gavin's motion for summary judgment, and denying plaintiff’s cross-motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff acquired title to an approximately 17-acre parcel of land in Thornton, and subsequently received subdivision approval from the Thornton Planning Board to create Lot 1, a 1.06-acre parcel; he recorded the subdivision as Plan 11808 at the Grafton County Registry of Deeds (registry of deeds). In July 2006, plaintiff mortgaged Lot 1 to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) by mortgage deed, recorded in the registry of deeds. The mortgage deed described the property as Lot 1 as depicted on Plan 11808. Plaintiff received approval from the Thornton Planning Board to further subdivide the 17-acre parcel into a total of eight lots; he recorded the subdivision as Plan 12600 at the registry of deeds. As part of this subdivision approval, the southerly boundary of Lot 1 was relocated. Plan 12600 showed both the original Lot 1 lot line and the new southerly lot line, and shows Lot 1 as consisting of 2.40 acres. Plaintiff ultimately defaulted on his loan, and MERS foreclosed on Lot 1. MERS conveyed Lot 1, pursuant to a foreclosure deed under power of sale to defendant Bank of New York, as Trustee for the Certificate Holders CWABS, Inc. Asset-Backed Certificates, Series 2006-15 (Bank of New York). Then Bank of New York conveyed Lot 1 to Winwin by quitclaim deed. The deed from the Bank of New York to Winwin included the same description as that contained in the mortgage deed, with the additional phrase, “[s]ubject to any and all matters, including setbacks if any, as shown on Plan No. 11808 and Plan No. 12600 recorded in [the registry of deeds].” Winwin conveyed the property in May 2009 to defendants Gary and Anita Shulman, and the Shulmans conveyed the property in April 2014 to defendants Aaron Katz and Jeremy Gavin. In 2015, plaintiff sued defendants, asserting several claims relating to the size of Lot 1. Winwin moved for summary judgment on plaintiff’s petition to quiet title to Lot 1, asserting that it had previously held record title to the lot, which included the approximately 1.34 acres added to Lot 1 by the lot line adjustment (the disputed land), because the description of the property in the mortgage deed included any additions to the land. After review, the New Hampshire Supreme Court found no reversible error in the superior court's grant of defendants' summary judgment, and affirmed. View "Mahmoud v. Town of Thornton" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs (landlords), challenged San Francisco Planning Code 317(e)(4) as conflicting with the Ellis Act of 1985, Government Code section 7060, which protects property owners’ right to exit the residential rental business. The ordinance was enacted in 2013 in response to a growing concern by the Board of Supervisors (and others) about the shortage of affordable local housing and rental properties. Under section 317(e)(4), certain residential property owners (those undertaking no-fault evictions) including “Ellis Act evictions” were subject to a 10-year waiting period after withdrawing a rental unit from the market before qualifying to apply for approval to merge the withdrawn unit into one or more other units. The trial court found that the ordinance impermissibly penalized property owners for exercising their rights under the Ellis Act and was facially void on preemption grounds. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting an argument that the plaintiffs lacked standing. Section 317(e)(4) is preempted by the Ellis Act to the extent it requires a landlord effectuating a no-fault eviction to wait 10 years before applying for a permit to undertake a residential merger on the property. View "San Francisco Apartment Ass'n v. City & Cnty.. of San Francisco" on Justia Law