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Ideally, real estate deals go smoothly and all parties involved are pleased with the end result. But there are cases in which conflicts arise at various stages of the transaction. Even after the ink is dried and everything appears to be settled, a dispute could turn the deal upside down and lead to litigation. Regardless of which side of the lawsuit you are on, you will need skilled legal representation that understands the most common disputes and how they can be resolved. LaFountain & Wollman P.C. examine a few of these issues.

Breaches of Contract

Contracts are at the heart of every real estate transaction, from land purchases to commercial leases. While it’s a good idea for all parties involved to have their attorneys review the real estate contract before signing, this doesn’t guarantee there won’t be a disagreement down the road. The parties may not interpret a term or clause in the same way, for instance. On the other hand, one party may accuse the other of failing to fulfill their contractual obligations.

A possible and likely more advantageous outcome (compared to a trial) is alternative dispute resolution, or ADR. Generally this is either mediation or arbitration. Both take place outside the traditional courtroom setting and can save everyone time, money, and headaches.

Boundaries and easements

After purchasing a piece of real estate, the new owner may run into boundary issues with a neighbor. A classic example is a fence dividing two properties, which one owner believes encroaches upon his or her land. Other examples are trespassing and disagreeing where the property lines are.

There are also various easement problems that could develop. While express easements are relatively objective in nature, other forms like implied and prescriptive easements are more fluid and lend themselves to differing interpretations.

When parties have a boundary dispute, the simplest way to resolve it is for the two neighbors to calmly discuss the matter. This usually works to address such issues as trespassing and encroachments. For property line problems, the property deed needs to be examined and a survey may have to be conducted. As for easement issues, there are various possible solutions such as modifying the original easement terms, clarifying the scope of activities allowed under the easement, or setting limits on how long the easement lasts.

Landlord-tenant disputes

Whether the property is residential or commercial, landlord-tenant disagreements are some of the most common sources of litigation. Matters such as non-payment of rent, failure to make repairs, property damage, and eviction can quickly wind up in the courtroom.

Court dockets are usually filled with landlord-tenant cases so it may take time to actually have your case heard. The two parties should therefore attempt to work out their disagreements themselves, even if they must resort to mediation. They will need to check the lease agreement and ensure they both understand their rights and obligations. But if privately discussing or mediating the dispute doesn’t work, a judge may ultimately need to have the final say.

Fraud and misrepresentation

These closely related problems will usually reveal themselves at some point after the real estate transaction has closed. It may even be years before the issue is uncovered. For instance, the seller might have falsely represented that he or she conveyed good title to the property. Or the seller may have failed to disclose water or mold damage that significantly impacts the value and even safety of the property.

If you are the buyer, you should document any issues you have with the property that you believe rise to the level of fraud or misrepresentation. Through counsel, you can approach the seller to present the evidence and determine whether a solution can be reached. Meanwhile, if you are the seller, you may need to investigate the claims yourself and determine if the buyer is raising them in good faith. Regardless, a resolution can be reached without having to go to trial.

Having An Experienced Attorney Will Make A Difference

The above are not the only disputes that come up in real estate. If your issue goes to court, our law firm is ready and able to advocate for your rights. But we can assist with the other methods listed above such as mediation and reaching an out-of-court settlement with the other party. If real estate litigation has been threatened or has already started, give LaFountain & Wollman P.C. a call today.

About the Author
Attorney Nicholas J. LaFountain has extensive experience litigating and negotiating civil disputes of many types. He has been successfully representing clients in the courtroom since 2004.