Category Archives: Real Estate Disputes

Senior living center protested in Texas

In Houston, Texas, a developer wants to put in an assisted living facility for senior citizens. However, some other residents are resisting it, asking that the facility not be built close to their luxury condos. They are afraid that the new center may cause the property values to fall. They have a number of reasons for this train of thought, but one prominent reason is that ambulances may be called to the assisted living center, and people may not want to live on a street with many emergency vehicles.

In response, the citizens have gone to the Harris County Civil Court and put in a lawsuit to stop the project.

This is not the first dispute over a building project, but many past projects deal more with the scale of the new buildings, which may be taller than the condos and dwarf the older buildings. This situation is interesting in that it is not focusing on the size of the building, but more on the way that it will be used.

The condo residents want the government to step in and put an end to the project, and they want to be paid for damages to the property values. Those damages, as of recent reports, are over $1 million.

Despite being mid-rise and not high-rise buildings, the condos are luxury living spaces with large, expensive floor plans. These plans run from 2,500 to 3,000 overall square feet.

The value of a property is very important to anyone who owns it, as that property may be seen as an investment and anything that causes it to lose value is a direct loss of money. As such, it’s important to know your options in a residential property dispute.

Source: Houston Chronicle, “Lawsuit by luxury condo owners targets senior living facility developer” Erin Mulvaney, Mar. 18, 2015

Is that fence on your El Paso property or your neighbor’s?

Texas landowners take a lot of pride in their land, and boundaries are important. What happens when you find out that the neighbor has been using a piece of your land?

Well, in some cases, if they are good neighbors, when confronted, they will relinquish their use of your land, offer to buy it off of you or maybe offer to pay for their use of it. In the other percentage of cases, they may claim the land is theirs. Are they right? If a survey of the properties has not been done in a long while, it may be time to do one.

This is often where disputes over residential property take place. Those disputes can quickly escalate into full-fledged feuds if not handled properly. Seeking the advice of an attorney should be your first step.

While a survey should have been done when the property was purchased, if the property has been owned for a long time or in the family for a long time, aged deeds may not have defined the boundaries in clear terms. For instance, they may reflect the boundary as being so many feet away from a riverbed that is now nonexistent or has changed over the years. If a fence line once defined the property boundaries, the fence may have been moved.

Another argument that often comes up is to who owns the fence on the property line — who is responsible for maintaining the fence or tree that resides on the property line.

There are many ways to resolve land and property disputes. An attorney can provide advice and different options that are available. In the event that property owners cannot resolve the land dispute in any other way, there is such a thing as a “quiet title lawsuit” that can be filed requesting a court to determine the property boundaries.

How much do you know about property zoning issues in El Paso?

So maybe you have selected the perfect property in El Paso for your new home or office building. Before you get too invested, you need to make sure the property is going to be suitable. Is it zoned to fit your proposed plan? If you are planning to build a residential family home, you need to ensure it is not zoned for commercial use or zoned for residential if you want to build an office building. But that is not all you need to know.

You will need to know if there are parking requirements, right-of-way requirements, lot size requirements, and more. These are the types of things that developers and builders deal with all the time. But builders and developers, while probably more familiar with zoning laws and what they involve than the everyday person, also know that it often takes a zoning attorney to ensure everything passes the requirements before investing in an expensive property that cannot be used once it is built.

Property zoning laws can sometimes be modified or given special privileges to suit your needs by going before the proper government agencies with your request. Zoning attorneys are familiar with these types of cases and can help present zoning requests for a favorable decision.

You will also want to check to see how the surrounding property is zoned. If you are building a family residence, and a vacant lot exits nearby, you may want to ensure it is not zoned for commercial use. If it is, you may end up with a very busy convenience store, fast-food restaurant or gas station next door. Surrounding property is very important, whether you are planning a family residence or a commercial property.

Some types of zoned property also have tax exemptions, such as agricultural land. If you are requesting a zoning change, you need to be sure you know if there are any tax implications.

If you are not experienced with zoning laws and planning new development of land, there are many other things involved also, such as what inspections will be needed, what type of drainage is required and more. Seeking a zoning attorney can help you work through these issues.

For further information on things that you may need to consider, view our web page.

Texas real estate purchases: why a title search?

If you are buying or selling property in El Paso, Texas, and you are not versed in real estate law, you probably don’t want to attempt to go it alone. Real estate procedures and laws can be very complex. Anyone who is not a first-time home buyer probably knows that there are tons of paperwork that must be signed when closing on a house or piece of property. Did you ever wonder what all that paperwork was about?

There are certain steps that must be done before closing on a new home or piece of property. Besides the normal home inspection that takes place to ensure the home is up to par, there is another inspection to be done — a title search. Most people assume just because the property is being sold, the title is free and clear, or will be transferred directly from the lender. Unfortunately, it is not always that simple. When a home is bought or sold, that is often the time when someone discovers additional liens or judgments exist on the property.

That is why a title search is performed. Some of the issues that may show up could be a second mortgage holder, a judgment against the home from an unpaid debtor and occasionally even an old lien on the property that was made against a previous owner could show up. To see additional issues you might run into with property titles, click on our website.

You should also be aware of laws regarding property titles in your state. Different states have different laws regarding how titles are handled by mortgage companies, such as whether your state is a lien theory state or a title theory state. Texas is a title theory state, where a lender holds the title to a borrower’s property in a Deed of Trust. In a lien theory state, the borrower holds the title, and the lender has a lien against the title until the loan is paid.

Before moving forward to sell or purchase your home, you should ensure a thorough title search is done on your property. Everything must be handled properly, as even an incorrectly spelled name can create chaos or cause litigation down the road.

Lack of regulatory guidance leads to pipeline real estate dispute

A property developer and a major energy company in Texas are continuing to quarrel over contentious hydrogen sulfide lines on a plot of land in Odessa. The developer and the energy company each contend that the other party is responsible for burying the flow lines that carry the poisonous gas through the plot of land. While the real estate dispute is continuing in court, local officials say that the health and welfare of area workers is being compromised because of the exposed lines.

The plot of land in question is located close to the Ector County Detention Center, and the plot is connected to three oil wells. Flow lines for the poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas are connected to these oil operations. Currently, the lines are exposed because there is no surface development on the plot. However, about 500 workers are now performing tasks on the land every day — and some of them are driving over the exposed lines.

The real estate dispute involves Devon Energy suing the purchaser of the land, who wants to create surface developments on the plot. The conflict apparently lies in a poorly defined segment of Texas regulatory law. The state does not dictate responsibility for burying the flow lines. Oil leases sometimes determine responsibility, but regulatory guidance on the issue is spotty, at best.

Official reports show that the landowner believes he is being bullied by the oil company. The cost of burying the lines would only be about $92,000 — and the energy company is proposing to pay half of that cost. Still, the landowner in the real estate dispute is refusing to pay because of principle.

Real estate disputes often occur because of a lack of regulatory guidance. In such cases, the parties must resolve the purchase disputes in civil court, sometimes involving government entities. Ultimately, the safety and health of residents and workers should motivate parties to reach resolutions in such controversial cases.

Source: OA Online, “Developer, oil company fight over H2S lines” Corey Paul, Sep. 07, 2014

Texas real estate has a system in place to resolve disputes

In the state of Texas, people often have disputes over property. When a real estate transaction turns ugly, there are a series of steps for you to follow that can lead to the resolution. There are some details for you to be aware of in order to resolve any issues you might encounter.

Real estate transactions are usually monitored by a licensed realtor. This is generally someone who has undergone training and received a license after passing a comprehensive test. A real estate licensee is someone who is state-licensed to engage in the practice of real estate. Holding an agent’s or broker’s license does not make someone a realtor. The national, state or local associations issue licenses.

Working with a realtor during a transaction implies you have an informed person who assists in the process of transferring property. This person should be dedicated to professionalism and integrity. The difference between a licensee and a realtor is the latter is obliged to serve his or her clients in an ethical and dedicated manner.

Since the client is always a priority, when the code of ethics is violated, there are additional committees in Texas that can impose sanctions on a realtor. Depending on the severity of the violation, a letter may be dispensed or disciplinary action may be warranted.

There is a code of ethics that must be enforced so that if a member of the public or another individual feels they have been treated incorrectly, a complaint may be filed. The complaint can be anonymous or be addressed in court by the Texas Real Estate Commission.

Some real estate advisors will attempt to resolve the matters without court appearances. Communication and openness can solve misunderstandings, as well as a program that uses mediators to try to work out an amenable solution. Mediators do not provide solutions; they are part of a private conversation that attempts to offer unbiased alternatives or options to the clients.

If you have a real estate dispute in Texas, there are informed entities and agencies that can determine if something inappropriate or unprofessional has taken place. In order for your rights to be protected under the law, you deserve the highest quality of care to move forward in what could involve the biggest investment of your life.

Source: The Chronicle, “Realtor View: Learn how to file a complaint in real estat” Chaille Ralph, Aug. 01, 2014

Texas residents fighting the government for Red River land

Land disputes can be complicated, but when you’re fighting the government, it might help to have some Washington politicians on your side. Texas land along the Red River has some Texas politicians concerned that a potential “land grab” may be in play from the Bureau of Land Management. Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott are trying to protect Texas citizens’ claims to 116 miles of land along the southern border of the Red River.

The BLM claims that the government has owned the land since the Louisiana purchase in 1803. A spokesperson for the agency also alleges that the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed their ownership of the land in the 1920’s. However, Texas citizens have allegedly been paying taxes on the land and developing it as their own for years.

The gray area in this real estate dispute is around the boundaries. Red River runs between the Oklahoma and Texas border, with the middle of the river designated as the state line, per the Supreme Court decision in the 1920’s. The land owned by the government was supposed to encompass anything “between” an area north of the invisible state line — in Oklahoma territory — to cut-out banks on the Texas side. However, with normal erosion and changes in the river over the years, the river’s location is altered, and it is now uncertain who owns what.

In 1986, a dispute between Oklahoma and Texas ranchers included one Texas man who had purchased 140 acres of land for $300,000. In his case, the government’s claim was upheld by the courts, and the man lost his land.

In regards to the Red River real estate, the BLM is in the process of planning use for the land. The planning process began last year. It is unclear whether any legal action will take place between the Texans and the BLM over the land at this point. A lot of complaints have been coming in according to an Oklahoma land office agent.

However, for a real estate dispute to take place, a citizen will have to file a legal action. Their attorney will need to be very thorough in researching and preparing their case. They will no doubt have to research the past documented land and river boundaries, as well as provide current boundaries and proof of ownership of the land.

Source:Dallas News, “Red River land dispute echoes Cliven Bundy fight in Nevada” Nick Swartsell, Apr. 30, 2014

Texas buyer wants deposit back in real estate dispute

Real estate transactions have been tricky in many southern states since the economic slump of 2008. Texas has not been the only state to fall prey to real estate property disputes.

A real estate company previously affiliated with Prudential has filed a suit against Regions Banks of Alabama and a resident of Texas in the Orleans Parish District Civil Court. At issue is a $50,000 deposit and a buyer who changed her mind.

A Texas woman agreed to purchase a property on Prytania Street, New Orleans, for $1.6 million. She then signed an “Agreement and Counter Offer” transaction.

The suit claims the broker and listing agent came to an arrangement with the buyer and the $50,000 deposit was delivered by the buyer’s agent. The property closed on the predetermined date, but the broker was later informed that the buyer would not go through with the sale.

Since then both the bank and the buyer have requested the funds be released, but the real estate company considers the funds to be in dispute. The representative for the real estate company has requested that the court hold on to the funds, less the costs of filing, and has asked to be dismissed from the case.

The bank feels that the buyer reneged on her obligation to purchase the property, as per the real estate agreement and counter offer. They claimed the buyer agreed to make the purchase and was aware of the closing date. The bank states that the contract allows them 10 percent of the purchase price, or $160,000, and the right to retain the disputed funds.

Real estate transactions are complex in Texas, as in other states. There is a great deal at stake for the buyer and the seller, as well as the for lending institution. In the mountain of paperwork to be filed, sometimes a purchase dispute arises. It is advisable for all involved in real estate transactions to have the guidance and expertise of a seasoned individual or entity, that is well-versed in real estate law. It is in your best interest and will help protect your rights and your understanding of what you are signing.

Source:Louisiana Record, “Real estate company asks to be released from responsibility of $50K deposit dispute” Lizzy Fitzsousa, Apr. 02, 2014

Controversy continues with stalled talks over drilling in Denton

In a response to community concerns over safety and drilling rights in Denton, developers continue to move forward to allow drilling and hydraulic fracturing that some locals feel is too close to housing communities. While the negotiations to provide a decision over these rights have stalled, energy agencies intend to keep exploring whether their companies can keep holding their ground in maintaining existing rights to the leases in the city.

Following a split decision vote, the city council pledged to continue negotiations with the energy company that would support a retroactive period for the last three months.

Over a hundred members of the community vocalized their protests on the stalled negotiations and requested a temporary halt to the drilling.

Original talks resulted in a standstill months ago following a suit against the energy company filed by the city. Although the charges were eventually dropped, drilling continued as the two entities engaged in talks to resolve the issue. The energy company reaffirms its authority to keep working on the existing wells, as the original permits were still in effect and authorized by the city.

In efforts to exercise reserved rights at a local gas well, one housing developer has proposed the city council allow a zoning modification that would permit construction of more homes near the well site. The council approved the zoning change. The protesters voiced concerns to the council over lack of police response to their complaints regarding foul odors emanating from the proximity of the wells. They warn this could be the symptom of a more serious issue. One area resident was concerned with the water line running near the drill site. He stated the presence of leaks could seep into the creek running into the local lake, posing a potentially serious safety violation.

The situation in Denton is one case that points to the complexity of a real estate dispute involving developers, builders and concerned community members. Land use, zoning issues and municipal property ordinances involve complex processes that affect everyone. To ensure each case is in compliance with property regulations, there are guidelines in place the average citizen may not be aware of that necessitate the advice of a well-informed professional. In such cases like the Denton controversy, all stakeholders have a right to seek advice from a legal professional as to the adherence to the laws governing real estate.

Source:Denton Record-Chronicle, “Denton council to continue talks with EagleRidge” By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Feb. 04, 2014

Seniors and town embroiled in residential property dispute

Senior citizens are a blessed part of society, but not all members of society share that view. Proposed plans to build a senior housing development in Port Arthur has met with continued resistance by residents there who continue to oppose the construction of the facility in their neighborhood.

One district councilman has stated that the citizens in the area are not unsympathetic to housing plight of seniors. They just don’t want the housing project near their back door. Seniors have countered, saying they are being treated unfairly due to their low incomes.

One resident in Port Arthur, who lives with her family in subsidized housing states the options are limited if an individual is unable to pay higher rents in more upscale areas.

The director of the Port Arthur Housing Authority claims there are 67 elderly residents on the waiting list for low-income housing, but that not all live in Port Arthur. The Edison location had originally been chosen for being close to pharmacies, stores and hospitals. The mayor, as well as city developers, expressed disappointment with the vote, stating the ongoing battle against approval of the location shows disrespect for seniors. One developer attested that the disputed project could mean our elderly citizens might not be able to spend the last few years of their lives in pleasant dwellings.

While the project is estimated to cost about $12 million, that cost would have been offset by about $5 million if the Department of Housing had awarded tax credits. Due to the presence of other public housing projects in the city, a resolution had to be passed stating the city would not stop the construction of a new one.

While locals protest the project at the hearing, they claimed they would support it in someone else’s backyard. Those voicing complaints cite concerns about higher crime, but one law enforcement officer, who had experience with other senior facilities, denied there was a relationship between the two. A human rights advocate, the officer requested the people on the waiting list not be turned away.

Seniors have worked their entire lives to be able to spend their twilight years peacefully and in pleasant surroundings. Now a group of seniors has been placed in a situation where they feel unwanted and unappreciated. Residential property disputes take on a more emotional toll when the best interests of senior citizens are questionable.

Source: The Port Arthur News, “Edison Square plans derailed in tie Council vote” Sherry Koonce, Jan. 21, 2014