Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court granting an improvement district's (District 84) request for foreclosure and entering judgment against TND Developers, LLC for the total of unpaid improvement district taxes and ordering all TND lands within the district sold with the proceeds applied against the improvement district's judgment, holding that Appellants' claims on appeal failed. On appeal, Appellants argued, inter alia, that District 84's lien for nonpayment of improvement taxes could only attach to individual tracts upon which taxes were actually delinquent and unpaid, and therefore, an in rem judgment could not be attached to certain tracts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Ark. Code Ann. 14-94-118 makes clear that all unreleased property within the district is subject to District 84's tax lien; (2) because District 84's complaint plainly described the land it sought to foreclose, as well as the tracts excluded from the action, the circuit court did not err in allowing District 84 to proceed on the basis of a statutorily defective complaint; (3) District 84 did not improperly refuse prepayment of improvement taxes; (4) Appellants' claims for equitable estoppel or equitable subordination failed; and (5) the circuit court's order did not violate Appellants' due process rights. View "Bullock's Kentucky Fried Chicken, Inc. v. City of Bryant, Arkansas" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and Andrijana Mackovska filed suit alleging that Viewcrest wrongfully removed their personal belongings and took possession of residential property Viewcrest had purchased at a foreclosure sale. The trial court held that plaintiff waived his right to a jury trial by failing to timely post jury fees. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that the trial court erred in denying plaintiff's motion for relief from the jury trial waiver, because Viewcrest did not make a showing of prejudice; plaintiff's failure to file a petition for writ of mandate after the trial court denied his motion for relief from jury trial waiver did not preclude review of that order on appeal from the judgment; plaintiff did not have to show prejudice; and the trial court's order imposing sanctions must be vacated. View "Mackovksa v. Viewcrest Road Properties LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Habitat for Humanity under the Fair Housing Amendments Act, which prohibits an entity from discriminating against a disabled individual by failing to make reasonable accommodations in policies and practices that are necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. Plaintiff also alleged that Habitat's minimum-income requirement has a disparate impact on disabled individuals receiving social-security-disability income. The Eleventh Circuit held that a court must first consider whether a plaintiff has shown that a requested accommodation is facially reasonable and then whether a defendant has demonstrated that the accommodation would result in an undue burden or fundamental alteration to its program or policy; a plaintiff's financial state in any particular case could be unrelated, correlated, or causally related to his disability and that, in some cases, an accommodation with a financial aspect—even one that appears to provide a preference—could be necessary to afford an equal opportunity to use or enjoy a dwelling within the meaning of the Act; and plaintiff failed to create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Habitat's minimum-income requirement disproportionately excludes SSDI recipients. Accordingly, the court affirmed the disparate-impact claim, but vacated the failure-to-accommodate claim and remanded for further proceedings. View "Schaw v. Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff/Appellant was the vested remainderman of his father's life estate in the surface rights of land in Canadian County, Oklahoma (the "Property"). Defendant Cimarex Energy Company was the lessee of the Property's mineral interests. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that he was entitled to compensation for the surface damages caused by the drilling of wells and entitled to be notified of negotiations to determine surface damages because he was a "surface owner" within the meaning of the Surface Damages Act (SDA), 52 O.S. sections 318.2 et seq. Defendant moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim arguing Plaintiff was not an owner within the meaning of the SDA, and even if he were an owner, his proper remedy was to seek compensation from the life tenant. The trial court sustained the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss finding the Remainderman was not a "surface owner" under the SDA. Plaintiff appealed. The Court of Civil Appeals reversed the trial court's ruling interpreting "surface owner" under the SDA to include vested remainder interests. The Oklahoma Supreme Court found the SDA's definition of surface owner was ambiguous, and was persuaded by the common meaning, expressed legislative intent, and interests of justice that the SDA's use of surface owner applies only to those holding a current possessory interest. Under the SDA, a mineral lessee must negotiate surface damages with those who hold a current possessory interest in the property. A vested remainderman did not hold a current possessory interest until the life estate has come to its natural end. The Court of Civil Appeals’ decision was vacated and the trial court affirmed. View "Hobson v. Cimarex Energy Co," on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court granting declaratory judgment ordering the planning commission of the city of Broadview Heights to issue a certificate of approval to Gloria Wesolowski, holding that the thirty-day time limit set forth in Ohio Rev. Code 711.09(C) applies to a city planning commission and prevailed over the municipal subdivision regulation at issue in this case. After the commission denied Wesolowski's application seeking to subdivide property Wesolowski filed an administrative appeal alleging that the commission failed to comply with section 711.09(C), which requires that the commission either approve or deny a subdivision application within thirty days after its submission. The trial court agreed and granted partial summary judgment in Wesolowski's favor. The commission appealed, arguing that section 711.09(C) does not apply to cities because the city's regulations, adopted pursuant to its home-rule powers, prevail over section 711.09(C). The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the time limit set forth in section 711.09(C) applies to both cities and villages; and (2) a home-rule municipality's adoption of subdivision regulations is an exercise of its police powers, and therefore, section 711.09(C) prevails over any conflicting municipal subdivision regulation. View "Wesolowski v. Broadview Heights Planning Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court challenging the legality of the Boston Redevelopment Authority's (BRA) actions executing a permanent taking of the "Yawkey Way" easement and subsequently selling the easement rights, holding that Plaintiff lacked standing to challenge the permanent taking of the Yawkey Way easement and the sale of the easement rights pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 121B, 46(f). After plans were made to try to improve Fenway Park and its surroundings, the BRA executed a permanent taking of an easement over a portion of Yawkey Way - a public way adjacent to Fenway Park. The BRA then sold the easement rights to the Boston Red Sox for as long as Major League Baseball games are played at Fenway Park. Plaintiff, a local attorney and business owner who had sought to acquire the Yawkey Way easement rights for himself, brought this action challenging the BRA's actions. The motion judge granted judgment for the BRA. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff lacked standing to challenge the BRA's actions. View "Marchese v. Boston Redevelopment Authority" on Justia Law

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Tenants alleged that their former landlord, Lau, violated the owner move-in provisions of the San Francisco Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance when he instigated eviction procedures against them. Tenants were awarded more than $600,000 in damages. The trial court entered judgment notwithstanding the verdict, finding no substantial evidence to support the jury’s verdict. The court of appeal affirmed. The “good faith,” “without ulterior reason,” and “honest intent” requirements do not trigger a wide-ranging inquiry into the general conduct and motivations of an owner who seeks to recover possession of a unit. These terms serve a specific function: to determine whether the owner harbors a good-faith desire to occupy the apartment as his primary residence on a long-term basis. Lau was under no legal obligation to evict another instead of the Tenants and may not be barred from enjoying the benefits of an apartment he owns and wishes to occupy as his primary residence simply because it had rented more cheaply than another, noncomparable unit in his building. View "Reynolds v. Lau" on Justia Law

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Jon Tonneson and Mary Issendorf, in her personal capacity and as personal representative of the estate of Vesper Shirley, (“defendants”) appealed a judgment quieting title to certain property in Teresa Larson, Janet Schelling, and Lynette Helgeson (“plaintiffs”). Plaintiffs and defendants were successors in interest to certain property at Lake Metigoshe in Bottineau County, North Dakota. The parties acquired their respective properties through their families beginning in the 1950s. In 2012, plaintiffs became aware of property boundary issues after a survey was conducted when plaintiffs were attempting to replace a mobile home on the property. At that time, plaintiffs also discovered a platted roadway ran through their property, though no such roadway existed on the property. Plaintiffs thereafter took steps to vacate the road. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not clearly err in finding Larson, Schelling, and Helgeson acquired the disputed property by adverse possession. Therefore, the Court affirmed the judgment, but remanded the case for entry of a corrected judgment. View "Larson, et al. v. Tonneson, et al." on Justia Law

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Arianna Holding Company purchased a tax lien on a piece of property owned by the Hacklers and eventually obtained title to the Hacklers’ property via foreclosure proceedings. Shortly after Arianna obtained title, the Hacklers filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and sought to void the transfer of the title as preferential, 11 U.S.C. 547(b). The Bankruptcy Court and the district court ruled in favor of the Hacklers. The Third Circuit affirmed. The title transfer meets 547(b)’s requirements for avoidance. The transfer was made to or for the benefit of a creditor, was made for an antecedent debt, was made while the debtor was insolvent, was made on or within 90 days before filing for bankruptcy, and enabled the creditor to receive more than it would have received in a Chapter 7 liquidation proceeding. The petition and schedules listed the value of the property at $335,000, which far exceeded the value of the liens against the property; Arianna filed a proof of claim for $42,561.21 and other liens totaled no more than $89,000. The Hacklers’ Chapter 13 plan proposed to pay Arianna’s claim in full. Federalism concerns raised by Arianna cannot overcome the plain language of the Code. View "In Re: Hackler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's decision to reinstate Happy Creek, Inc.'s original water rights' priority dates in equity, holding that, under the extraordinary circumstances of this case, the district court properly granted equitable relief for Happy Creek. As mandated by Nev. Rev. Stat. 533.410 the State Engineer canceled Happy Creek's ground water permits after Happy Creek's agent missed a filing deadline by a few weeks. Accordingly, Happy Creek lost more than fifty years of priority in water rights despite having invested $1 million in improving water-use efficiency and having met the other substantive criteria for maintaining priority of its water rights. Happy Creek's groundwater rights were in an over-appropriated basin, and therefore, Happy Creek was threatened with complete loss of use of water. The district court granted equitable relief by restoring Happy Creek's original senior priority dates. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that pursuant to State Engineer v. American National Insurance Co., 498 P.2d 1329 (Nev. 1972), and its progeny, the district court properly granted Happy Creek equitable relief. View "State Engineer v. Happy Creek, Inc." on Justia Law