Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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In this construction defect case brought by homeowners against several contractors, the Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the district court that the limitations period against each contractor began to run upon the substantial completion of each contractor's project.The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the contractors in this case, generally agreeing that the limitations period for the homeowners' claims against the contractors began to run on the dates that each contractor substantially completed its work. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Homeowners' claims against the contractors were time barred as matter of law under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-223 and by denying their oral motion seeking leave to amend their complaint to add a new claim. View "McCaulley v. C L Enterprises, Inc." on Justia Law

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Will Hughes and Chad Penn were commercial farmers who leased farmland in Madison County, Mississippi. They began using propane cannons in the summer months to deter deer from eating their crops. Because of the intentionally loud noise these devices created, neighboring property owners sought to enjoin Hughes and Penn from using the cannons. But citing the Mississippi Right to Farm Act, the chancellor found the neighbors’ nuisance claim was barred. Undisputedly, Hughes’s and Penn’s farms had been in operation for many years before the nuisance action was filed. So the chancery court ruled Miss. Code Ann. Section 95-3-29(1) was an absolute defense and dismissed the neighbors’ nuisance action. On appeal, the neighboring property owners argued the chancery court misinterpreted the statute. In their view, the chancery court erred by looking to how long the farms had been in operation instead of how long the practice of propane cannons had been in place. But the Mississippi Supreme Court found their proposed view contradicted the statute’s plain language. "The one-year time limitation in Section 95-3-29(1) does not hinge on the existence of any specific agricultural practice. Instead, it is expressly based on the existence of the agricultural operation, which 'includes, without limitation, any facility or production site for the production and processing of crops . . . .'" Applying the plain language in Section 95-3-29(2)(a), the Supreme Court found the properties being farmed were without question agricultural operations. And the propane cannons were part of those operations, because they were part of the farms’ best agricultural-management practices. Since the farms had been in operation for more than one year, the chancellor was correct to apply Section 95-3-29(1)’s bar. View "Briggs v. Hughes" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint in this fraudulent conveyance suit, holding that the circuit court erred in shifting only the burden of production, and not the burden of persuasion, to Defendants after Plaintiff established a presumption of fraudulent conveyance.Plaintiff filed this suit seeking to void a purported fraudulent conveyance of a certain residence. The circuit court found that Plaintiff's evidence was sufficient to establish a presumption that the conveyance was fraudulent but eventually dismissed Plaintiff's complaint. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the circuit court erred in ruling that after a plaintiff in a fraudulent conveyance case proves a badge of fraud, which creates the presumption of a fraudulent conveyance, the plaintiff still retains the burden of persuasion to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, a fraudulent conveyance. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred when it (1) did not shift to Defendants the burden of persuasion along with the burden of production, and (2) did not apply a standard of proof that required strong and clear evidence in determining the sufficiency of Defendants' evidence offered to rebut the presumption of a fraudulent conveyance. View "White v. Llewellyn" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court concluding that Sierra Club lacked standing to challenge the Clay County Board of Adjustment's decision affirming the issuance of a permit for the operation of a concentrated animal feeding operation in Clay County, holding that the circuit court erred in holding that Sierra Club lacked representational standing.In concluding that Sierra Club lacked standing under S.D. Codified Laws 11-2 to bring this lawsuit in its own right, the circuit court concluded that Sierra Club was not a person aggrieved and lacked representational standing because participation in the suit by its individual members was required. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the circuit circuit properly determined that Sierra Club lacked standing to bring suit in its own right under section 11-2-61; and (2) the circuit court erred in concluding that Sierra Club lacked representational standing. View "Sierra Club v. Clay County Board Of Adjustment" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Nationstar in a diversity action brought by plaintiff alleging claims arising from nonjudicial foreclosure by a HOA on real property in Nevada. The Federal Foreclosure Bar, 12 U.S.C. 4617(j)(3), and Nevada state law, which establishes that in the event a homeowner fails to pay a certain portion of HOA dues, the HOA is authorized to foreclose on a "superpriority lien" in that amount, extinguishing all other liens and encumbrances on the delinquent property recorded after the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions attached to the title. The panel concluded that while Nevada law generally gives delinquent HOA dues superpriority over other lienholders, it does not take priority over federal law. Furthermore, federal law, in the form of the Federal Foreclosure Bar, prohibits the foreclosure of Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) property without FHFA's consent.In this case, the panel concluded that Nationstar properly and timely raised its claims based on the Federal Foreclosure Bar. The panel also concluded that the Federal Foreclosure Bar applies to the HOA foreclosure sale here where Fannie Mae held an enforceable interest in the loan at the time of the HOA foreclosure sale, as established by evidence of Fannie Mae's acquisition and continued ownership of the loan throughout that time and by evidence of its agency relationship with BANA (formerly BAC), the named beneficiary on the recorded Deed. The panel explained that Fannie Mae's interest in the loan, coupled with the fact that it was under FHFA conservatorship at the time of the sale, means the Federal Foreclosure Bar applies to this case. Finally, the panel concluded that the Federal Foreclosure Bar preempts the Nevada HOA Law. View "Nationstar Mortgage LLC v. Saticoy Bay LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing Appellant's action seeking a writ of prohibition to prevent the enforcement of a foreclosure judgment against her, holding that the court of appeals did not err.Appellant filed this prohibition action asserting that Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., which filed the foreclosure action against Appellant, had failed to obtain service within one year of filing the complaint. The court of appeals sua sponte dismissed the cause, concluding that this action was moot and that Appellant's appeal in the foreclosure action constituted an adequate remedy precluding extraordinary relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant's cause of action was not moot; but (2) Appellant's opportunity to assert service and personal jurisdiction defenses in the foreclosure case and on appeal was an adequate remedy at law. View "Lundeen v. Turner" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit challenging the City's new enforcement policy of short-term vacation rentals (STVRs). The trial court granted plaintiff's petition for a writ of mandate enjoining the City's enforcement of the STVR ban in the coastal zone unless it obtains a coastal development permit (CDP) or a Local Coastal Program (LCP) amendment approved by the California Coastal Commission or a waiver of such requirement.The Court of Appeal affirmed, concluding that the California Coastal Act of 1976 required the Commission's approval of a CDP, LCP amendment, or amendment waiver before the STVR ban could be imposed. Because there was no such approval, the trial court did not err by concluding that the STVR ban constituted a "development" under the Act. The court explained that the City cannot act unilaterally, particularly when it not only allowed the operation of STVRs for years but also benefitted from the payment of transient occupancy taxes. The court agreed with the trial court that the City cannot credibly contend that it did not produce a change because it deliberately acted to create a change in coastal zone usage and access. Finally, in regard to the City's argument that the Coastal Act exempts abatement of nuisances allegedly caused by STVRs, the City waived that issue by informing the trial court it was not "making the nuisance argument." Nor is the court persuaded that the political question and separation of powers doctrines apply. View "Kracke v. City of Santa Barbara" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that the construction of approximately twenty-seven miles of Class II community connector trails designed for snowmobile use in the Forest Preserve violated the "forever wild" provision of N.Y. Const. art. XIV, 1 and, therefore, could not be accomplished other than by constitutional amendment.The Forest Preserve is located within the Adirondack Park. In 2006, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation prepared a plan with the goal of creating a system of snowmobile trails between communities in the Adirondack Park. Plaintiff commenced this action alleging that construction of the trails violated article XIV, 1 of the New York Constitution. Supreme Court held that the construction was constitutional. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the planned Class II trails were constitutionally forbidden. View "Protect the Adirondacks! Inc. v. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation" on Justia Law

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As part of a project to construct a new road along the North Diversion Channel, the City of Albuquerque initiated a condemnation proceeding to acquire a thirty-foot-wide strip of land across a 9.859-acre property (Property) owned by SMP Properties, LLC, whose managing member was R. Michael Pack (collectively, SMP). The district court granted Albuquerque entry and ordered the distribution of $143,850 to SMP as “just compensation” for the condemned property. SMP asserted it did not receive full compensation because, prior to initiating the condemnation action, Albuquerque directly communicated its intent to condemn a portion of the Property to one of SMP’s tenants, SAIA Motor Freight Line, LLC (SAIA). Hearing of Albuquerque’s intent to condemn, SAIA apparently decided not to renew its lease before Albuquerque filed the contemplated condemnation action, determining that the condemnation would disrupt its operation and use of the portion of the Property it leased. Based on Albuquerque’s pre-condemnation communications with SAIA and SAIA’s subsequent failure to renew its lease, SMP asserted an inverse condemnation claim against Albuquerque seeking consequential damages, including lost rental income and devaluation of the Property adjacent to the thirty-foot wide strip that Albuquerque condemned. Albuquerque moved for partial summary judgment on SMP’s “claims for consequential damages relating to the loss of potential tenant leases.” The district court granted Albuquerque summary judgment and concluded that Albuquerque’s pre-condemnation activity did not constitute “substantial[] interfere[nce] with the landowner’s use and enjoyment of the [P]roperty,” and therefore, no taking (in the form of an inverse condemnation) occurred. The Court of Appeals reversed the district court, finding there were disputed issues of material fact to preclude summary judgment. Though it did not adopt the appellate court’s reasoning, the New Mexico Supreme Court affirmed reversal of summary judgment. View "City of Albuquerque v. SMP Props., LLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the court of special appeals dismissing an amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, holding that Petitioners' amended complaint adequately set forth a cause of action under Md. Code Real Prop. (RP) 7-113.Petitioners, occupants of residential property that they owned or leased, brought this action against Respondents, a mortgage servicer and a real estate broker, after Respondents posted eviction notices on Petitioners' properties in an attempt to gain possession of the properties without a court order. Petitioners claimed that Respondents violated RP 7-113 and the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (MCPA), Md. Code Comm. Law 13-101 et seq. The circuit court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed in part, holding (1) Petitioners set forth a cause of action under RP 7-113; and (2) this Court has not established a more demanding standard for pleading damages in private actions brought under the MCPA. View "Wheeling v. Selene Finance LP" on Justia Law