Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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In this dispute over an award of attorneys' fees under 42 U.S.C. 1988, the First Circuit identified only one defect in the award, thus vacating the existing fee award in the amount of $20,243 and remanding to the district court to enter a modified fee award in the amount of $18,218, holding that the district court abused its discretion in part.The underlying case revolved around a parcel of real property in Puerto Rico formerly owned by Plaintiff. Defendants, including the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority, moved for summary judgment for Plaintiff's failure to seek just compensation in the Puerto Rico courts before raising a federal takings claim. The district court granted the motion. As to attorney's fees, the district court found that the federal takings claim was frivolous and awarded payment of fees in the amount of $20,243. The First Circuit vacated the award, holding that the time expended in connection with a non-frivolous supplemental tort claim should have been deducted from the fee award. View "Efron v. Mora Development Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court finding that there was no default of the loan in this case and issuing a wide-ranging preliminary injunction reaching matters that were not argued or briefed, holding that the district court erred in disregarding the loan agreements' provisions setting forth what constituted a default.At issue before the Supreme Court was the conditions under which a lender or its assignee is entitled to the appointment of a receiver after a borrower defaults on a real property loan agreement. Once Borrower in this case assumed ownership of properties housing multi-family apartment complexes the lender observed a significant decrease in occupancy. Observing that significant repairs were needed and relying on specific provisions in the loan agreements Lender demanded deposits into repair and replacement escrow accounts. Lender deemed a default when Borrower did not make the deposits. Lender sued and sought a receiver. Borrower countersued alleging breach of contract and seeking injunctive relief. The district court granted judgment for Borrower. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court (1) abused its discretion in refusing to appoint a receiver on Borrower's default; and (2) abused its discretion in issuing a preliminary injunction. View "Federal National Mortgage Ass'n v. Westland Liberty Village, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this divorce action, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part orders entered by two different circuit court judges related to James Farmer's distributional interest in Lakota Lake Camp, LLC and orders related to the release of funds to James's wife, Lori Lieberman, that were previously held by the clerk of court following the execution sale of property owned by Lakota Lake, holding that the court erred in part.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the collection court had subject matter jurisdiction to hear and determine Lori's application for a charging order; (2) the divorce court erred in ordering the release of excess sale proceeds to Lori; and (3) the collection court's order denying Lakota Lake's motion to release to the company the excess sale proceeds from the sale of Granite Perch, the last remaining property owned by Lakota Lake, to Lori must be vacated and the case remanded for further proceedings on the issue. View "Farmer v. Farmer" on Justia Law

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Hurst sought a loan modification in 2018. Caliber notified Hurst that her application was complete as of April 5, 2018, that it would evaluate her eligibility within 30 days, that it would not commence foreclosure during that period, and that it might need additional documents for second-stage review. On May 1, Caliber requested additional documents within 30 days. Although Hurst responded, she did not meet all of Caliber’s requirements. On May 31, Caliber informed Hurst that it could not review her application. Hurst sent some outstanding documents on June 7, but her application remained incomplete. Caliber filed a foreclosure action on June 18. Hurst spent $13,922 in litigating the foreclosure but continued working with Caliber. Caliber again denied the application as incomplete on August 31 but eventually approved her loan modification and dismissed the foreclosure action.Hurst filed suit under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), alleging that Caliber violated Regulation X’s prohibition on “dual tracking,” which prevents a servicer from initiating foreclosure while a facially complete loan-modification application is pending, 12 C.F.R. 1024.41(f)(2); failed to exercise reasonable diligence in obtaining documents and information necessary to complete her application, section 1024.41(b)(1); and failed to provide adequate notice of the information needed to complete its review (1024.41(b)(2)). The district court granted Caliber summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed with respect to the “reasonable diligence” claim. Hurst identified communications where Caliber employees provided conflicting information and had trouble identifying deficiencies. View "Hurst v. Caliber Home Loans, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Jefferson County, Idaho Board of Commissioners (“the County”) granted Appellant Tina Gilgen a conditional use permit that allowed her to place a mobile home on real property she owned with her husband, Kelly Gilgen. The Gilgen property fell within the City of Ririe’s area of impact (“AOI”). The City of Ririe (“the City”) petitioned for judicial review, claiming the County erroneously approved Gilgen’s application by applying Jefferson County zoning ordinances within the AOI instead of City ordinances, which would have resulted in a denial of Gilgen’s application. The City relied on an area of impact agreement between Jefferson County and the City of Ririe, in which the County specifically agreed to apply the City’s ordinances to property located within the AOI (“AOI Agreement”). After the County filed a notice of non-objection, the district court entered an order granting the City’s petition, reversing the County’s original decision, and remanding the matter to the County. On remand, the County issued an amended decision that denied Gilgen’s application for a conditional use permit. Several months later, Gilgen filed three motions for reconsideration of the district court’s order remanding the case, alleging the district court did not have jurisdiction to consider the City’s petition. Each of the motions was denied. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the City did not have standing to petition the district court for review of the County’s decision. The trial court’s judgment was vacated. View "City of Ririe v. Gilgen" on Justia Law

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In this case arising from five separate tax lien foreclosure actions the Supreme Court held that reasonable fees and costs incurred after a redemption certificate has issued that were a direct and necessary result of completing that redemption are recoverable even though those expenses were incurred after the redemption.After TFLTC, LLC purchased five liens on five properties it filed an action to foreclosure each property owner's redemption rights. The owners eventually redeemed their tax liens, and certificates of redemption issued. Thereafter, TFLTC sought to recover attorney fees and costs in each separate case pursuant to Ariz. Rev. Stat. 42-18206. Relying on Leveraged Land Co. v. Hodges, 226 Ariz. 382 (2011), the trial courts awarded only fees and costs incurred before redemption. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that reasonable fees and costs arising from the redemption itself are recoverable even though the expenses were incurred following the redemption. View "TFLTC, LLC v. Ford" on Justia Law

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Donna Fisher lived in a mobilehome located in The Groves mobilehome residential community in Irvine, California. In 2011, Fisher filed a verified assessment appeal application with the Assessment Appeals Board No. 3 (the Board) for the County of Orange (the County) contesting the County Assessor’s assessment of the value of the land upon which her mobilehome was sitting for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. She argued the property had suffered a decline in value. Following extensive hearings, the Board issued its findings of fact and determination denying Fisher’s application. Fisher filed suit against the County to challenge the Board’s decision and sought a refund for overpayment of taxes in the amount of $739 for the underlying real property of her mobilehome. Following trial, the trial court issued a statement of decision rejecting Fisher’s challenges to the Board’s findings of fact and determination and entered judgment in favor of the County. Fisher again appealed, but the Court of Appeal affirmed, finding no reversible error. View "Fisher v. County of Orange" on Justia Law

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The Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation (“PEDF”) challenged for the third time, the use of proceeds from oil and gas leasing on the Commonwealth’s forest and park lands as violative of Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, also known as the Environmental Rights Amendment. (“Section 27” or “ERA”). In previous trips before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, PEDF challenged several 2009-2025 budgetary provisions enacted challenging the use of proceeds from oil and gas leasing on the Commonwealth’s forest and park lands as violative of Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, also known as the Environmental Rights Amendment. (“Section 27” or “ERA”). In the first two cases, PEDF challenged several 2009-2015 budgetary provisions enacted in the wake of dramatic increases in oil and gas revenue resulting from Marcellus Shale exploration in Pennsylvania. Applying trust principles, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the budgetary provisions violated Section 27 by utilizing the oil and gas revenue for non-trust purposes via transfers to the General Fund. PEDF v. Commonwealth, 161 A.3d 911 (Pa. 2017) (“PEDF II”); PEDF v. Commonwealth, 255 A.3d 289 (Pa. 2021) (“PEDF V”). The underlying case here was one for a declaratory judgment, and named the Commonwealth and Governor as parties. Here, PEDF raised numerous constitutional challenges to provisions of the General Appropriations Act of 2017 and 2018, as well as the 2017 Fiscal Code amendments, all of which were enacted after the Supreme Court’s decision in PEDF II. After review , the Supreme Court affirmed the Commonwealth Court, whilst rejecting that court;s analysis derived from PEDF III. View "PA Enviro Defense Fdn, Aplt. v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court affirming the judgment of the Board of County Commissioners of Park County approving Trial County Telephone Association, Inc.'s (TCT) application for a special use permit to construct a 150-foot broadband communications tower in Park County, holding that the Board did not arbitrarily or capriciously in approving the application.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the Board had a rational basis to conclude that the proposed was not oversized, and therefore, the Board's approval of TCT's application did not violate Park County development regulations; and (2) the Park County regulations did not require the Board to consider alternative sites for a project before approving a special use permit, and it therefore did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in approving the application without considering alternative locations for the proposed tower. View "Jolovich v. Board of County Commissioners of Park County" on Justia Law

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Village Green at Sayville, LLC sued the Town of Islip, its Town Board, its Planning Board, and the members of the Town and Planning Boards, alleging that a pattern of racial, ethnic, and national origin discrimination by Defendants stifled Village Green’s effort to build an affordable apartment complex in Sayville, a hamlet in Islip. The district court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that Village Green’s land-use claims were not ripe under the framework established by Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank, 473 U.S. 172 (1985).The Second Circuit vacated and remanded the district court’s ruling. In addressing only the narrow issue of ripeness, the court explained that federal suits in the land-use context, like this one, are generally not ripe for adjudication until a landowner receives a final, definitive decision on a land-use application. The court wrote that it need not speculate why the Town Board would decide to deny the application without a formal vote and forswear further public proceedings. However, taking as true the material factual allegations in the complaint such a decision was made. If a dispute can ripen when a municipal entity uses “repetitive and unfair procedures” to avoid a final decision, it surely ripens when, as here, the entity makes plain that it has reached a decision that, by all accounts, it intends to be final. The court concluded that Village Green’s claims are ripe because the rejection of Village Green’s application inflicted a concrete and particularized injury, not one that is merely speculative and may never occur. View "Village Green at Sayville, LLC v. Town of Islip et al." on Justia Law