Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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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 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

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After plaintiff decided to jaywalk across a five-lane highway at night and was struck by a car, she filed suit against the owner of a condominium complex she was trying to visit, alleging claims for negligence and premises liability for having too few onsite parking spaces for guests.The Court of Appeal held that a landowner does not owe a duty of care to invitees to provide adequate onsite parking, either (1) under common law principles or (2) by virtue of a 1978 city ordinance that rezoned the complex's specific parcel for multifamily dwellings and conditioned that rezoning on providing a specific number of guest parking spaces. The court explained that a landowner's common law duty of care does not encompass a duty to provide onsite parking for invitees in order to protect them from traffic accidents occurring off site as they travel to the premises, and the court did so for two reasons: (1) such a duty is foreclosed by precedent, and (2) even if not foreclosed, the so-called Rowland factors counsel against such a duty. The court rejected plaintiff's claims under Ordinance No. 151, 411 for two reasons: (1) the ordinance is a parcel-specific ordinance adopted as the final step of a multistep administrative procedure and is therefore incapable of forming the basis for a duty of care, and (2) the guest parking condition of the ordinance was aimed at preserving the aesthetic character of the surrounding neighborhood, and not at protecting invitees from traffic accidents. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the condominium complex. View "Issakhani v. Shadow Glen Homeowners Ass'n., Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the ruling of the district court finding that an amended pleading by the Estate of Francis O. Glaser related back to its original pleading and therefore permitted an additional conveyance to be set aside after the statute of limitations had lapsed, holding that the district court erred in concluding that the late amendment related back to the date of the original motion.The Estate in this case attempted to void a predate transfer of farm property by Glaser to a friend. In order to do so, at the close of the evidence, the Estate filed a motion to amend the original motion to set aside property conveyances that failed to mention the farm property. The district court permitted the late amendment and found that the amendment related back to the filing of the original motion. Therefore, the court concluded that the claim was not barred by the applicable statute of limitations and that the challenged conveyances should be set aside. The Supreme Court held, like the court of appeals, that the late claim to set aside the farm property was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. View "Kindsfather v. Bowling" on Justia Law

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Appellant and his wife obtained a home mortgage in 2006, but only the wife signed the promissory note. After appellant's wife died, appellant defaulted on the loan. Appellant alleged that the mortgage servicer, Specialized Loan Servicing, refused to communicate with him about the loan because he was not the named borrower. Specialized subsequently initiated foreclosure proceedings by causing a notice of default to be recorded. Appellant filed suit under the California Homeowner Bill of Rights (HBOR), Civil Code section 2923.4 et seq., seeking to enjoin the foreclosure proceedings. After Specialized agreed to postpone the foreclosure sale and appellant failed to make his payment, the foreclosure sale proceeded as planned and the property was purchased by a third party. Appellant then filed an amended complaint against Specialized. Specialized moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted.The Court of Appeal affirmed, concluding that, by its terms, the HBOR creates liability only for material violations that have not been remedied before the foreclosure sale is recorded. The court held that where a mortgage servicer's violations stem from its failure to communicate with the borrower before recording a notice of default, the servicer may cure these violations by doing what respondent did here: postponing the foreclosure sale, communicating with the borrower about potential foreclosure alternatives, and fully considering any application by the borrower for a loan modification. After such corrective measures, any remaining violation relating to the recording of the notice of default is immaterial, and a new notice of default is therefore not required to avoid liability. Therefore, appellant has provided no basis for liability under the HBOR. The court also concluded that Specialized complied with section 2923.6 as a matter of law by conducting the foreclosure sale only after appellant failed to accept an offered trial-period modification plan. Finally, given the court's conclusions and the trial court's consideration of the merits of appellant's claims, the reinstatement of sections 2923.55 and 2923.6 did not warrant reconsideration. View "Billesbach v. Specialized Loan Servicing LLC" on Justia Law