Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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San Rafael voters approved by a two-thirds vote a Paramedic Services Special Tax, imposing an annual special tax up to a maximum of 14 cents per square foot on all nonresidential structures in the city to fund paramedic services. In 2015-2016, the city determined that the Assessor had been inadvertently omitted certain properties from the Paramedic Tax assessment. City officials rectified this oversight prospectively and sought to collect a portion of the Tax that had gone unpaid. One property owner that received notice of the levy was Valley Baptist, a nonprofit religious organization that operates a church on property within city boundaries. The city requested payment of $13,644.Valley Baptist filed suit, challenging the constitutionality of the Tax as applied to a place of worship. Valley Baptist argued that it is exempted from payment of all property taxes under article XIII, section 3(f) of the California Constitution, including the Paramedic Tax. Reversing the trial court, the court of appeal held that the religious exemption does not extend to non-ad valorem special property taxes like the Paramedic Tax. The constitutional articles added by Propositions 13 and 218 do not evince an intent by the electorate to extend the scope of article XIII exemptions to special property taxes. View "Valley Baptist Church v. City of San Rafael" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court invalidating Order No. 1293A, which prohibited the driving of new domestic wells in the Pahrump Artesian Basin unless the applicant identified and relinquished 2.0 acre-feet annually from an alternate source (the 2.0 afa requirement), as unlawful, holding that Nevada law authorized the order's 2.0 afa requirement under the circumstances.In invalidating the order, the district court concluded (1) the State Engineer violated due process by issuing the order without first providing notice and a public hearing; (2) the State Engineer lacked authority to issue the 2.0 afa requirement; and (3) substantial evidence did not support the order. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the State Engineer was not required to hold a hearing or develop a more robust record; (2) the State Engineer was not required to provide notice and a hearing regarding the 2.0 afa requirement under the circumstances; and (3) the State Engineer's decision was supported by substantial record evidence. View "Wilson, P.E. v. Pahrump Fair Water, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the district court concluding that the county board of adjustment legally granted an area variance to certain property owners, holding that the board of adjustment acted illegally in granting the variance from the county zoning ordinance.The Board of Adjustment of Cerro Gordo County granted the application for a variance filed by Gregory and Lea Ann Saul that allowed them to construct a pergola twenty-one inches from the property line. The local ordinance required a six-foot setback. The district court concluded that the board acted legally in granting the variance. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the court of appeals and reversed the district court, holding that the Sauls did not meet their burden to establish unnecessary hardship. View "Earley v. Board of Adjustment of Cerro Gordo County" on Justia Law

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In this partition action, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court ruling that Plaintiff's death terminated her interest in a joint tenancy, holding that R.I. Gen. Laws 34-15-12 abrogates the common law right of survivorship in a joint tenancy when an action for partition is pending.Plaintiff filed a partition action requesting that the superior court partition property she owned in a joint tenancy with Defendants. Defendants asserted counterclaims for unjust enrichment and breach of agreement. While the litigation was pending, Plaintiff died. Defendants moved to dismiss the partition action, asserting that Plaintiff's property interest had passed to the remaining joint tenants by operation of law upon Plaintiff's demise. The hearing justice granted the motion. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that Plaintiff's decease did not abate her action for partition, and therefore, the litigation remained pending. View "Butler v. Gavek" on Justia Law

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In this foreclosure action, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the superior court, holding that questions of disputed material facts existed regarding Plaintiff's claims for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing that could not be resolved on a motion for judgment on the pleadings.Defendants, as mortgagees, caused a foreclosure sale to be conducted for certain property. Plaintiff was the successful bidder. Defendants were prepared to convey title to Plaintiff but when Defendants asserted that Plaintiff was liable for all costs that had accrued with respect to the property, but Plaintiff disputed this liability. Defendants then caused a foreclosure-of-bid letter to be sent to Plaintiff. Plaintiff brought this action alleging four counts. The superior court granted Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment as to the claim under the Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Act and otherwise vacated the judgment, holding that the district court erred in granting judgment on the pleadings as to the remaining counts. View "Premier Home Restoration, LLC v. Federal National Mortgage Ass'n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of Deutsche Bank on Deutsche Bank's foreclosure complaint, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion.On appeal, Stephen Clifford argued that the district court abused its discretion by admitting several documents under the business records exception to the rule against hearsay and erred in finding that Deutsche Bank satisfied the elements of proof to support the judgment of foreclosure. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the documents under the business records exception; and (2) Deutsche Bank proved all the required elements to foreclose by a preponderance of the evidence. View "Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas v. Clifford" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying Petitioners' motion for summary judgment, holding that Petitioners were immune from Respondent's lawsuit pursuant to the litigation privilege and the Noerr-Pennington doctrine.Petitioners executed an oil and gas lease to a company that assigned 2,300 acres of Petitioners' tract to Respondent for a storage project. Respondent then applied to FERC for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to construct and operate a storage field. Petitioners intervened in the FERC proceeding. FERC eventually granted Respondent's request. When Respondent did not complete construction of the storage facility within the required amount of time it sought a three-year extension. Petitioners opposed the extension, and FERC denied Respondent's request to extend the timeframe. Thereafter, Petitioners filed suit against Respondent alleging breach of contract and seeking declaratory judgment. Respondent filed a counterclaim alleging, inter alia, breach of contract. Petitioners filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that they were immune from suit pursuant to the litigation privilege and the Noerr-Pennington doctrine. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the litigation privilege and Noerr-Pennington doctrine provided Petitioners with immunity from all of Respondent's counterclaims. View "Smith v. Chestnut Ridge Storage, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting various mortgage lenders and trustees summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims for negligence and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, holding that genuine issues of material fact did not preclude summary judgment.Plaintiff filed an action asserting negligent loan supervision/administration, breach of the implied contract covenant of good faith and fair dealing, anticipatory declaratory judgment, and quiet title to mortgaged property. The district court granted summary judgment to Bank of America, N.A. (BOA) on all claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting BOA summary judgment on Plaintiff's asserted negligence and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing claims. View "House v. U.S. Bank National Ass'n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court reversing the order of the City of Bloomington Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) affirming the decision of the City of Bloomington citing UJ-Eighty Corporation for a zoning violation, holding that there were not constitutional violations in this case.UJ-Eighty owned a fraternity house at Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington that was located within a district zoned by the City to permit limited residential uses. UJ-Eighty leased its house to an IU-sanctioned fraternity, but before the lease ended, IU revoked its recognition and approval of the fraternity, which meant that no one could live there. Bloomington cited UJ-Eighty for a zoning violation when two residents remained in the house. The BZA affirmed. UJ-Eighty appealed, arguing that the City impermissibly delegated its zoning authority to IJ by allowing it unilaterally to define fraternities and sororities. The trial court agreed and struck down the ordinance's definition of fraternities and sororities under the state and federal constitutions. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Bloomington did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment because the ordinance was not an impermissible delegation of power or a denial of due process. View "City of Bloomington Board of Zoning Appeals v. UJ-Eighty Corp." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in an action brought by plaintiff and his family under the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA). Plaintiff and his family sought to extend their tenancy in defendants' property based on plaintiff's medical condition.The panel agreed with the district court that, under 42 U.S.C. 3604(f)(3)(B), making "accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services" was not necessary to afford plaintiff and his family "equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling." The panel held that, absent an accommodation, the plaintiff's disability must cause the plaintiffs to lose an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. In this case, defendants offered plaintiff and his family, who were on a month-to-month tenancy, terminable at will, a new lease for one year at an increased rent. However, plaintiff and his family turned down the new lease, and never credibly argued that they turned down the lease for any reason related to plaintiff's disability. Upon termination of the lease, plaintiff and his family were in the same position as a family with no disability that had had its lease terminated. The panel explained that it could not find a connection between plaintiff's disability and his request to remain in the home until January 22, 2018. Therefore, defendants were under no obligation to extend the tenancy-termination date. Finally, the panel agreed with the Third and Sixth Circuits and held that there is no standalone liability under the FHAA for a landlord’s failure to engage in an interactive process. View "Howard v. HMK Holdings, LLC" on Justia Law