“What is ‘real estate’? I’ve heard the term ‘legal description.’ If I rent my home or apartment or work for someone else, does real estate affect me?”
At the fundamental level, real estate law is a vast legal topic and covers land, also known as real property. Real property is different from personal property, which is stuff of more or less value, from the computer screen on which you read these words to the clothes you are wearing.
No one is exempt from the sphere of influence of real estate — no one. In fact, at a macro level, wars are fought over real estate ownership and control, such as the ongoing land boundary dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
For everyone in the United States and Indiana, whether you own or lease your home or business or work for someone else, real estate law impacts you daily.
For instance, government operates and funds police and courts with the real estate taxes that your employer must legally pay on their real property, or that its landlord must pay (factoring into the lease payment), which determines, in part, whether a business fails or succeeds. Thus, the law covering real estate impacts each and every one of us — how much we make (or lose), whether a worker or business owner/operator.
Within this framework, any given business might not have its lease renewed by the lease contract; upon relocation to another place, its customers, for goods and services, might not follow. In short, businesses close under acts controlled by real estate law and employees lose their jobs, and they may in turn lose their homes or decide not to purchase homes.
At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., we know that real estate law is important to all of us. The legal issues raised by real estate law are an engine driving our society, sluggish and flat to rapidly expanding. When you face a matter of real estate law, you affect this engine. Sometimes you may need a skilled legal advisor to help you regulate your part.
For the typical consumer, real estate law will be encountered when leasing a place to live or buying a home. These are possessory interests in real estate and are not easily undone. In present times, this is an acute problem in America, impacting everyone from a Main Street shopkeeper to a Wall Street investment banker.
Many pieces of real estate, homes to commercial parcels, are “underwater.” This causes everyone to take a second look at a mortgage note or security agreements for escape or enforcement. Suddenly now, provisions of real estate law that have been in operation for years are under the magnifying glass.
For those who do not own a home or business parcel (or perhaps are building on one), the terms of a residential lease may dictate life, allowing or prohibiting many things, from animals in the leasehold to certain noise restrictions. Failure to adhere to these terms may result in a civil lawsuit by the landlord, which may cost the tenant legal fees and monetary penalties, or even equitable remedies such as eviction.
There is simply no way to escape interacting with real estate law. At times, this requires the aid of a real estate attorney. By way of the noted example, purchasing a home, there are numerous real estate dimensions that could or should be considered and explored. Think about technology, and this jumps out.
A common situation arises from the fact that when most parcels of real estate were surveyed and divided decades ago, the technology was not sophisticated enough to allow for the precision that can be obtained today with laser and GPS technology.
Thus, a residence that has a specific address — its “commonly known address,” such as 123 Happy Lane, to which mail is delivered and police and EMS respond to without problem or incident — may nevertheless be a hotbed of civil dispute over boundary lines. Two or more adjoining landowners may not agree on where one parcel stops and another begins.
The legal description from a point of beginning may overlap boundaries when surveyed by modern methods.
Often such legal problems are exacerbated by transfers of the land over different, but overlapping parcels, over decades, with the resolution of one legal boundary leading to another legal matter, going all the way back to its original deed-holder. For this reason, boundary disputes are somewhat commonplace.
An easement, or the right to use the real estate of another, is also a thorny legal issue leading to significant civil litigation.
Another common legal problem is adverse possession. Under this legal doctrine, a record-title-holder to real estate may lose his or her ownership. This occurs when he, she, or it fails to account for someone else using the property without permission. If the use is apparent to the owner but no action is taken, he or she may lose the property to the adverse user. Driveways often are involved with easement or adverse possession claims.
In these and related real estate matters, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys have effectively addressed legal problems by application of effective and creative solutions. These range from solving the dispute under easement theory to doing legal surveys to, ultimately, acquiring quiet title.
Another example of technology impacting real estate law: a parcel of real property may be “improved,” which means it has a structure built upon it. Over time, the building materials that were once commonplace, such as lead-based paint and asbestos tiles, have been replaced in the name of safety. Failure to account for this may leave the seller or purchaser with a costly remediation.
At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., we are actively and professionally involved in many facets of real estate law. Some of the more typical cases we encounter and may handle are as follows:
- Boundary disputes.
- Quiet title actions.
- Eminent domain.
- Real estate sales and purchase.
- Lease negotiation and dispute.
- Restrictive covenants.
- Commercial real estate matters between landlords and tenants.
- Civil appeals of real estate matters.
If you find yourself in a complex real estate transaction or face an unknown legal risk as it relates to real estate, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. may be able to help. We carefully assess each and every real estate case for viable legal theories and defenses, cognizant of the old, but nevertheless accurate, adage, that it is “location, location, location.”
Some legal problems that arise in real estate may not have an apparent or cost-effective remedy. We believe the key is to identify the objective and assess it from all perspectives, from potential costs of legal remedies to the emotional attachment land garners for individuals to business. Perhaps we are the legal team for your matter?