Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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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

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PBT, on behalf of itself and the owners of the other condominiums, sought an injunction in state court barring the Town from levying a special assessment against their properties. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the Town's motion for summary judgment on the owners' substantive due process and equal protection claims. In regard to the substantive due process claim, the court concluded that PBT failed to provide evidence showing that the Town lacked a rational basis in enacting the Resolution as a whole. In regard to the equal protection claim, given the relevant differences between the Comparators and the PB Towers, the court concluded that all that PBT has shown is that the Town Council treated dissimilar properties differently. The court concluded that such treatment does not implicate the Equal Protection Clause. Furthermore, even if they were similar, PBT fails to identify any evidence that an objectively reasonable governmental decisionmaker would consider the similarity it proffers.The court also affirmed the Town's motion to dismiss the owners' state law claims. The court explained that the district court was correct to dismiss the state law takings claims asserted in Count III, but erred in dismissing the state law claim alleging an unconstitutional tax. However, the unconstitutional tax claim was properly before the district court only based on supplemental jurisdiction. Because the federal claims were properly dismissed, the district court may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over this state law claim on remand. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion to reconsider. View "PBT Real Estate, LLC v. Town of Palm Beach" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the bankruptcy court declaring a foreclosure void and awarding Appellant damages but denying relief on her remaining claims, holding that Appellant's challenges on appeal were either waived or otherwise unavailing.After two attempts to foreclose the mortgage on a condominium that Appellant purchased she filed a six-count adversary complaint in the bankruptcy court naming five defendants, the financial institutions and law firms connected with the foreclosure. The bankruptcy court granted summary judgment as to one count in favor of Appellant, voiding one of the foreclosures, but denied the remaining claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Appellant's challenges were either waived or baseless. View "Jackson v. ING Bank, FSB" on Justia Law

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A subcontractor built a retaining wall that collapsed years later, causing damage to a nearby residential lot. The homeowner sued the subcontractor, obtained a default judgment, and then sued the subcontractor’s insurance company to enforce the default judgment. The insurance company moved for summary judgment, arguing the homeowner’s damages occurred long after the insurance policy had expired, and therefore the insurance company had no duty to cover the default judgment. The trial court agreed and granted the motion. On appeal, the homeowner alleged “continuous and progressive” damage began to occur shortly after the subcontractor built the retaining wall during the coverage period of the insurance policy. The insurance company disagreed. The Court of Appeal determined that was a triable issue of material fact, thus reversing the trial court’s grant of summary judgment. View "Guastello v. AIG Specialty Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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Sweeney bought the 39-acre Point Buckler Site, located in Suisun Marsh in the San Francisco Bay's Grizzly Bay, which apparently was previously operated as a managed wetland for duck hunting. Sweeney undertook unpermitted construction and development, including restoring an exterior levee and opening a private recreational area for kiteboarding. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) inspected the Site, noting the unauthorized work and multiple violations; the levee construction work had removed tidal flow to the Site’s interior and dried out tidal marsh areas. BCDC concluded the Site never functioned as a managed wetland and had long reverted to a tidal marsh. Sweeney was directed to stop work and informed that a marsh development permit was required to develop the Site; BCDC indicated that any work that could not be retroactively approved would need to be removed.The Regional Water Quality Control Board commenced separate proceedings, citing violations of the federal Clean Water Act and the California Water Code. BCDC staff observed that additional work had been performed since the earlier inspection. The Board issued a cleanup and abatement order (CAO), imposed administrative civil liabilities and required payment of approximately $2.8 million in penalties. The superior court set aside those orders.The court of appeal reversed. In issuing the CAO, the Board did not violate the requirements of Water Code section 13627; the CAO satisfied the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act criteria for enforcement actions and did not conflict with the Suisun Marsh Preservation Act. The court rejected arguments that the definition of waste cannot include earthen material, that the activities did not constitute “discharges,” and that any discharges were not into “waters of the state.” View "Sweeney v. California Regional Water Quality Control Board" on Justia Law

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The Moore family, individually or in trust, has owned and maintained the 108-acre Hiram, Ohio property since 1813. They have operated a small airport on the Property since 1948. Around 1951, the Township enacted a zoning resolution that zoned the Property as Rural-Residential and classified the airport as a nonconforming use, permitted to continue so long as the use is not abandoned for two years. The airport remained active in varying degrees but its use for ultralight aircraft and hang gliders started recently, and prompted nuisance complaints from neighbors. In 2016, Township officials told Moore that he needed a certificate of nonconforming use to continue the airport’s operations.The Board of Zoning Appeals voted to grant Moore a certificate but imposed several conditions. The Portage County Common Pleas Court modified the conditions. The Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed.While his state court appeal was pending, Moore filed a federal suit, alleging violations of his procedural and substantive due process rights and his equal protection rights under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Sixth Circuit affirmed that the suit was barred by principles of claim preclusion. There was a prior final, valid decision on the merits by a court of competent jurisdiction; this action involves the same parties; this action raises claims that were or could have been litigated in the Ohio action; and this suit arose out of the transaction or occurrence that was the subject matter of the Ohio action. View "Moore v. Hiram Township" on Justia Law

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In these four appeals turning on the timeliness of a mortgage foreclosure claim and involving the intersection of contracts affecting real property ownership and the application of the statute of limitations, the Court of Appeals held that the Appellate Division order in each case must be reversed.In two cases, the issue was when the maturity of the debt was accelerated, commencing the six-year statute of limitations period. The remaining issues in the other cases turned on whether the noteholder's voluntary discontinuance of a prior foreclosure action revoked acceleration of the debt, thus reinstating the borrower's right under contract to repay the loan in installments. The Court of Appeals held (1) in the first case, the default letter in question did not accelerate the debt; (2) in the second case, two complaints in prior discontinued foreclosure actions that failed to reference the pertinent loan were not sufficient to constitute a valid acceleration; and (3) as to the remaining issues, where the maturity of the debt has been validly accelerated by commencement of a foreclosure action, the noteholder's voluntary withdrawal of that action revokes the election to accelerate. View "Freedom Mortgage Corp. v. Engel" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the opinions of the court of appeals and the circuit court in this case involving the issues of the mandatory recusal of the trial judge and the interpretation of deeds, holding that the circuit court judge in this instance was required to recuse, necessitating this Court's setting aside the judgment.In this property dispute centering on the ownership of a right of way following a railroad's abandonment, the trial judge adjudged Plaintiff the owner of the property. The court of appeals affirmed. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial judge should have recused himself from the matter. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) Defendant sufficiently established that, in this proceeding, the trial judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned and that his recusal was mandatory; and (2) interpretation of deeds and the devolution and ownership of a right of way following a railroad's abandonment are matters of law, which an appellate court reviews do novo. View "Abbott, Inc. v. Guirguis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 79, the so-called "quick take" statute, permits a property owner to both accept a pro tanto payment for an eminent domain taking and simultaneously challenge the validity of the underlying taking.Plaintiff argued that Defendant, the City of Cambridge, must immediately tender him the full amount of the pro tanto payment because the quick take statute does not condition his acceptance of the pro tanto payment on waiving his right to challenge the City's taking of his real property. The superior court denied Plaintiff's motion to compel payment of the pro tanto amount, but a single justice in the Appeals Court vacated that decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the quick take statute does not condition a property owner's acceptance of the pro tanto payment under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 79, 8A on waiving her or his right to contest the validity of the taking under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 79, 18. View "Abuzahra v. City of Cambridge" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court reversing a Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) contested case decision granting RC Resources, Inc. (RCR) a beneficial water use permit under pertinent provisions of the Montana Water Use Act (MWUA) - Mont. Code Ann. 85-2-301(1), -302(1), and -311 - holding that the district court erred.The permit at issue would have authorized RCR to annually appropriate 857 acre-feet of groundwater that will flow into the underground adits and works of the proposed Rock Creek Mine. Based on its construction of Mont. Code Ann. 85-2-311(1)(a)(ii)(B), the district court reversed the issuance of the beneficial use permit. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) DNRC correctly concluded that, as used in section 85-2-311(1)(a)(ii), "legal demands" does not include consideration of whether the subject use complies with applicable Montana Water Quality Act nondegradation standards; and (2) section 85-2-311(2) does not violate the right to a clean and healthful environment as applied to the objectors' MWQA nondegradation objections to the proposed MWUA beneficial use permit. View "Clark Fork Coalition v. Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation" on Justia Law