Where Do I Go if I Have a Real Estate Dispute?
Where Do I Go if I Have a Real Estate Dispute?
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Where Do I Go if I Have a Real Estate Dispute?
It started out as a little harmless yapping in the middle of the night. The neighbor’s new dog enjoyed howling at the moon. However, the occasional howling morphed into round-the-clock barking that has you and your family on edge. Add to the barking a nice little hole dug by your neighbor’s dog onto your property and we have the basis of a brewing real estate dispute.
The question you have to answer is, “Where do I go if I have a real estate dispute?”
Land feuds are about as American of a tradition as baseball and apple pie. When the first settlers arrived, property disputes erupted up and down the East Coast. As development moved westward, land feuds became the most common type of legal dispute in the United States.
If you are embroiled in a land feud, you should turn to the experienced team of real estate attorneys at Morgan & Morgan. For years, we have helped clients win real dispute cases that range from property line encroachments to breaches of contract. Our goal is to get you the compensation you deserve, whether we arrive at that after negotiations or the conclusion to a civil lawsuit.
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What Is a Property Dispute?
A property dispute develops because of a disagreement over real estate. Although the definition seems easy to comprehend, the fact remains that real estate dispute cases are some of the most complex legal issues on any court docket. For example, a sinkhole suddenly appears in your backyard. Is it the responsibility of the city, county, or previous property owner to take care of the gaping hole? Is it your legal obligation to fix the problem before the sinkhole swallows your entire property?
Real estate disputes involve a wide variety of contentious issues that cover a large number of different types of property. At the heart of many real estate dispute cases is the action taken by one property owner that diminishes the value of a neighbor’s land. For instance, an independent contractor working for your neighbor accidentally poured concrete a few feet inside your property. The action decreased the value of your property and you want some form of restitution to make up for the loss.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Real Estate Disputes?
Before you answer the question, “Where do I go if I have a real estate dispute,” you should get to know the most common causes of property disputes. Because of rapid commercial and residential growth, real estate disputes have turned into one of the most common types of legal disputes.
Breach of Contract
The legal foundation of any real estate transaction is the contract signed by all parties. When all parties sign a real estate contract, they must follow certain conditions that are spelled out in the contract. Failure to follow one or more of a real estate contract’s conditions typically is grounds for legal action. A real estate lawyer from Morgan & Morgan will review a real estate contract before you sign it.
Failure to Disclose
A vast majority of states require property owners to disclose any known defects before consummating the sale of real estate. Failure to disclose defects gives the buyer the legal right to file a civil lawsuit that seeks just compensation. The most common types of undisclosed property defects include leaks, mold, and damage under the roof. Failure to disclose can be either done accidentally or on purpose. Proving intentional failure to disclose usually produces a larger financial settlement.
Property Line Disagreement
When two or more parties do not agree to real estate boundaries, a dispute can arise because of the disagreement. Residential property line disputes include building a fence line that crosses a boundary. You can avoid a property line disagreement by conducting research that defines the boundary between you and a neighbor. A general survey published by the county where you live should help you settle a boundary dispute.
Where Do I Go if I Have a Real Estate Dispute With a Neighbor?
Even if you have developed a friendly relationship with a neighbor, a dispute might arise that involves the real estate owned by both parties. Regardless of the issue, you need to be proactive to avoid the dispute turning into a prolonged battle that enrages both sides.
Understand the Facts
You will not resolve anything until you understand all the facts associated with a real estate dispute. A deed might present confusing information concerning a property line or arrangements made with the previous owners do not appear in a real estate contract. Both you and your neighbor might have a legitimate reason to dispute a real estate issue.
Refer to all relevant legal documents to determine the facts before jumping into a costly and time-consuming legal battle.
Find Common Ground
“Where do I go if I have a real estate dispute with a neighbor?” The first answer is over to your neighbor’s home to work out a solution to the real estate disagreement. A short, yet productive conversation can end the property dispute. Finding common ground is an effective strategy if you and your neighbor have developed a friendly relationship.
Contact an Attorney
If the ground you find is a bit rocky with your neighbor, the next place to go if you have a real estate dispute is to the office of a highly rated real estate lawyer. You want to work with a team of attorneys that specialize in handling property dispute cases, especially cases that involve your specific real estate disagreement issue.
Send Your Neighbor a Demand Letter
The next step in the real estate dispute process is for your lawyer to send your neighbor a demand letter. A demand letter describes the disagreement, the type of action requested, and an offer to settle the dispute. Your neighbor will pass the letter along to his or her attorney to learn more about every possible legal option.
File a Complaint
As the legal measure of last resort, filing a complaint initiates the litigation process. You can perform what is called a “quiet file,” which means your attorney asks the court to consider your evidence and arguments before the case goes to trial. If a settlement appears possible, you and your lawyer can request to negotiate an end to the litigation.
What Are the Types of Resolutions for Real Estate Disputes?
Resolutions for real estate dispute cases depend on the type of dispute, as well as the state where the contested property is located. You can resolve a property disagreement with an injunction, a judicial sale, a quiet title action, or monetary damages.
If you want to stop someone from doing something with real estate, you can ask for an injunction to put a temporary stop to the activity. An injunction is often used in commercial real estate dispute cases when one party alleges a breach of contract by another party. An injunction also goes by the name of a cease and desist order.
Commonly used in foreclosure cases, a judicial sale finalizes the sale of a property without the owner’s consent. This type of resolution is also used for partition actions, which gives a co-owner the right to separate legally from the other co-owners.
Monetary damages cover the financial losses incurred by one property owner. Let’s say a tree located in a neighbor’s yard fell onto your garage. You have the right to seek monetary damages from your neighbor to pay for the repairs done to the garage.
Quiet Title Action
A quiet title action represents a specific type of litigation that determines the legal ownership of real estate. This type of resolution is common when the chain of title written into the public record is incomplete or inaccurate.
Can I Go to Mediation or Arbitration?
You can resolve just about any type of legal disagreement by going through mediation or arbitration. Both methods cost less money and take less time than a civil lawsuit.
What Is the Difference Between Mediation and Arbitration?
The parties involved in mediation have the right to decide whether to agree with the proposed settlement made by the mediator. On the other hand, the decision issued by an arbitrator is binding to all parties involved in the real estate dispute if both parties agree to make the arbitrator’s decision binding.
How Long Do Mediation and Arbitration Take?
Both mediation and arbitrations take about a month to conclude. Mediation requires a few hours at one meeting to find common ground in a real estate dispute. Arbitration can take a bit longer, as the arbitrator has the legal power to request more evidence or hear from additional witnesses.
Why Should I Hire a Real Estate Dispute Lawyer?
The best answer to the question, “Where do I go if I have a real estate dispute” is to the law offices of Morgan & Morgan. An accomplished team of real estate litigators can help you for several reasons.
First, legal counsel reviews all the documents involved with a real estate disagreement to determine whether there is a solution to the problem that does not require litigation. For example, if you are involved in a boundary dispute, one of our real estate attorneys will read the general survey completed by the county where you live.
Second, hiring a state-licensed real estate dispute lawyer helps you gather and organize the evidence you need to convince a judge to rule in your favor. Evidence such as photographs and legal documents can boost your case during a civil trial.
Third, our real estate lawyers are highly skilled at negotiating settlements that are favorable for our clients. Negotiating a settlement for your real estate dispute keeps your case out of the courtroom, which saves you both time and money.
Finally, hiring one of the best property dispute lawyers ensures you meet every filing deadline. Just one missed filing deadline can prompt the county clerk to dismiss your real estate dispute case.
Learn more about why Morgan & Morgan is considered the best law firm to handle your real estate dispute case. Schedule a free case evaluation today to determine the best course of legal action.