Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the superior court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint against Defendants and declaring that a foreclosure sale of Plaintiff's property was valid, holding that the foreclosure sale was void because the notice of default sent to Plaintiff failed to comply with the terms of the mortgage. In 2007, Plaintiff purchased property and granted a mortgage on the property to secure a loan. In 2014, Plaintiff became delinquent on the mortgage. The mortgagee sent a notice of default and intent to accelerate to Plaintiff. After Plaintiff failed to cure the default, Plaintiff's property was sold at foreclosure sale. Plaintiff filed suit, alleging that the default notice was deficient and thus the foreclosure sale was void. After Defendants' motion for summary judgment was denied, Defendants sought declaratory relief seeking a declaration that the default notice sent to Plaintiff complied with the terms of the mortgage. The trial justice ruled in favor of Defendants. An order then entered dismissing Plaintiff's complaint and declaring the foreclosure sale valid. The Supreme Court vacated the order of the superior court, holding that the default notice failed strictly to comply with the terms of the mortgage, and therefore, Defendants failed to satisfy the condition precedent to a valid foreclosure. View "Woel v. Christiana Trust" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered in this case in what situations a non-attorney who performs one or more of the various services that are associated with a real estate transaction is engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. The Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee transmitted three reports to the Supreme Court concluding that Respondents had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by engaging in several aspects of residential real estate transactions that constitute the practice of law. The Supreme Court declined to adopt the Committee's recommendations in part and accepted them in part, holding (1) title insurance companies and their agencies do not engage in the unauthorized practice of law when they conduct a residential real estate closing, draft a residency affidavit, and draft a limited durable power of attorney when those activities are carried out in connection with the issuance of title insurance; (2) a title insurance company by conduct the examination of title for marketability only if a licensed attorney conducts the examination; and (3) drafting a deed constitutes the practice of law and that an attorney is required to either draft the deed or review it after its has been prepared. View "In re William E. Paplauskas, Jr." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court, holding that an amendment to the City of Providence's zoning ordinance that restricted the number of college students who may live together in single-family homes in certain residential areas in Providence did not violate Plaintiffs' right to equal protection or due process under the Rhode Island Constitution. Plaintiffs, a real estate investment company, and four individuals who were college students and housemates leasing the real estate investment company's property, filed a declaratory judgment action against the City seeking to invalidate the amendment, arguing that the City had violated the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Rhode Island Constitution. The hearing justice entered judgment in favor of the City. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the amendment was rationally related to the legitimate state purpose of preserving the residential character of certain neighborhoods and that there was no constitutional violation. View "Federal Hill Capital, LLC v. City of Providence" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs and declaring that Plaintiffs were entitled to unobstructed access to a beach easement and may cross Defendants' properties to reach that easement, holding that genuine issues of material fact remained, precluding summary judgment. At trial, Plaintiffs asserted that their property enjoyed an unrestricted easement appurtenant to the beach by virtue of the original easement to cross over the beach and that they were entitled access to the beach because they held a right-of-way over all three of defendants' properties based on the doctrines of easement by implication and easement by necessity. The hearing justice granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that where the hearing justice did not first determine whether an implied easement or easement by necessity existed for Plaintiffs to cross over Defendants' properties, the case must be remanded for further fact-finding. View "McElroy v. Stephens" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court for possession of certain property in favor of Plaintiff pursuant to the granting of summary judgment for Plaintiff, holding that when Plaintiff purchased the property at a foreclosure sale, all interests inferior to the foreclosed mortgage were extinguished and that no genuine issue of material fact remained. In 2008, MCH Realty, LLC, the then-owner of the property, entered into a lease agreement with Unetixs Vascular, Inc. to lease the property. In 2013, MCH executed a mortgage deed to DBS Bank Ltd. secured by its interest in the property. DBS later assigned its interest in the mortgage to CFS. In 2016, MCH and Unitexs extended the term of the lease. In 2017, CFS foreclosed on the mortgage and purchased the property at a foreclosure sale. CFS then filed a complaint seeking to evict Unetisx and another tenant (together, Tenants) and MCH from the property. A hearing justice granted the motion, ruling that the mortgage was superior to the Tenants' unrecorded leases and that, therefore, the leases were extinguished upon foreclosure. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that CFS was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "CFS 915, LLC v. Unetixs Vascular, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this property dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Defendant, holding that the trial justice did not misconceive or misconstrue the evidence at trial or err as a matter of law in concluding that Plaintiffs had not satisfied the elements for claiming the disputed property by adverse possession. In 2009, when Plaintiffs purchased their property in Buttonwoods, the believed they had also purchased the waterfront lot across the street from their home. Two years later, Plaintiffs commissioned a property survey showing that part of the land described in their deed was also included in an eighty-foot-wide public way owned by the Buttonwoods Beach Association (BBA). Plaintiffs brought this lawsuit alleging that they owned the property by adverse possession and acquiescence. The superior court entered judgment for the BBA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice did not err in concluding that Plaintiffs had not demonstrated ownership of the entire waterfront lot by adverse possession. View "Clark v. Buttonwoods Beach Ass'n" on Justia Law

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In this property dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the superior court granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment based on the ground of prosecutorial immunity, holding that the hearing justice erred in applying prosecutorial immunity to the Building and Zoning Official for the Town of Cumberland (Building Official Hall) and the Town of Cumberland (Town). Plaintiffs sued the Solicitor for the Town of Cumberland (Solicitor Hefner), Building Official Hall, and the Town, claiming negligence, private nuisance, trespass, intentional infliction of emotional distress and seeking declaratory judgment and injunctive relief after Plaintiffs' neighbor prevailed on an action against the Town regarding its agreement with the Town regarding a retaining wall abutting Plaintiffs' property. The hearing justice granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court vacated the decision in part, holding (1) Solicitor Hefner was entitled to prosecutorial immunity; (2) Building Official Hall failed to meet his burden of proof as to prosecutorial immunity; and (3) because this Court is vacating the superior court's decision with respect to Building Official Hall, the summary judgment decision with respect to the Town is also vacated. View "Diorio v. Hines Road, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court dismissing Plaintiff's claims against Defendants seeking a declaratory judgment concerning the propriety of the foreclosure of Plaintiff's property, holding that the superior court did not err. Plaintiff named as defendants Residential Credit Solutions, Inc.; FV REO I, LLC; Franklin Venture, LLC; and DLJ Mortgage Capital, Inc. As part of her complaint, Plaintiff sought to quiet title concerning the property at issue and an award of punitive damages, attorneys' fees, and costs. The hearing justice dismissed Plaintiff's complaint for failure to serve all indispensable parties. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's failure to meaningfully discuss the issues raised on appeal was fatal to Plaintiff's appeal. View "Osifodurin v. Residential Credit Solutions, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decree of the superior court foreclosing Crown Realty LLC's right of redemption to real property that was the subject of a 2017 tax sale, holding that that the superior court justice properly entered a decree forever barring Crown Realty's right of redemption. Crown Realty was the owner of real property that was sold to Plaintiff at a tax sale conducted by the Town of North Providence. Plaintiff failed a petition to foreclose the right of redemption, citing a failure to any interested party to redeem the property. The justice determined that Crown Realty's right of redemption was barred. One week later, a final decree was entered foreclosing the right of Crown Realty to redeem the property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Crown Realty's request that an exception to Conley v. Fontaine, 138 A.3d 756 (R.I. 2016), be applied in this case was misplaced; and (2) no implied-in-fact contract existed between the parties. View "Conley v. Crown Realty, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's action claiming violation of restrictive covenants and breach of the duty of quiet enjoyment arising out of Defendants' alleged wrongful construction of a multi-story structure on their property, holding that summary judgment was properly granted. Defendants failed to get approval prior to building, as required under the plain language of the restrictive covenant at issue. However, Defendants ultimately received the required approval. The requirements were not building requirements but, rather, the requirement to submit plans for approval prior to building. The Supreme Court held that because the requested relief for Defendants' breach of the restrictive covenants would lead to a futile result, the hearing justice did not err in granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment. View "Pollak v. 217 Indian Avenue, LLC" on Justia Law