REAL ESTATE DISPUTES
Los Angeles Real Estate lawyer Jennifer Gardner has litigated a wide variety of real estate disputes. Typical real estate disputes involve the following — all of which she has extensive experience handling:
- problems between individual owners and homeowners associations
- neighbor conflicts (these often escalate and can become violent)
- real estate fraud (usually between home buyers, sellers and brokers)
- nuisance (interference with use and enjoyment of property)
- resulting trust (where one person pays to purchase the property but the deed is in someone else’s name)
- partition (where you ask the court to sell a property and divide the proceeds between co-owners)
- specific performance (forcing performance of a contractual obligation – ex., “Sell me the property like you promised!”)
- quiet title (disputes over who is entitled to “legal” ownership – ex. “Why am I not on the deed?!”)
- adverse possession (where by operation of law you acquire property over time even though title is not in your name)
- encroachments, including trees and shrubbery and landscaping (trees and roots and property damage)
- boundary line fencing issues
- land use and zoning issues
- building code violations
- boundary line disputes and easements (where does my property begin and yours end, and rights to access and use)
- commercial lease disputes between landlords and tenants,
- title disputes and profit sharing disputes between co-owners and partners,
- breach of contract and fiduciary duty, and more.
As you can see from the above list, real estate disputes can encompass several different types of legal issues. They can involve boundary lines, construction defects, encroachments (i.e., trees, landscaping and fences) and more. They also can arise where a purchaser fails to pay, requiring the trust deed holder to file a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure action to foreclose on the property.
Legal issues often arise when individuals enter into creative financing arrangements to purchase property. Problems occur when they don’t nail down the terms of their agreements adequately before acquiring the property. This is a frequent cause of protracted litigation. Often experts (surveyors, appraisers, economic experts, arborists) are required to be hired so that the parties have enough information to be able to resolve their issues.
Another common scenario: non-married persons acquiring property together. When the relationship sours, even if it’s not a romantic relationship, it’s common for disputes and questions to arise concerning who owes and owns how much. Commonly co-owners don’t agree on when to sell a property, or one owner may contend that the other has breached the contract. Or, one person can pay all the funds, yet not be on title, which can lead to a claim for resulting trust.
When parties and even family members can’t agree on when or whether to sell their real property, Jennifer Gardner has litigated partition disputes to force the sale and have the proceeds divided. These lawsuits are often filed by former romantic partners, siblings, and friends, and can also involve allegations of breach of contract, resulting trust and fraud.
Jennifer Gardner handles partnership disputes and dissolutions of every kind – whether between family members, former usually unmarried domestic partners, business partners, members of Limited Liability Companies, and even shareholders vying for control.
More About Typical Real Disputes Handled By Los Angeles Real Estate Attorney Jennifer Gardner….
DISPUTES BETWEEN NEIGHBORS AND ADJOINING LANDOWNERS
This is a HOT TOPIC always!
We call these cases our “little wars.”
Attorney Jennifer Gardner has litigated many of these types of cases.
In Los Angeles and throughout Southern California, it’s not unusual for adjoining landowners to disagree over the location of a boundary line, or the obligation to maintain trees and landscaping or boundary line fencing.
This is especially true in neighborhoods, such as the Hollywood Hills, where there are many non-conforming, curve-linear lots. Not surprisingly, these disputes often spin out of control and escalate into nasty “little wars.”
The California Civil Code codifies the obligations of adjoining landowners. (California Civil Code Section 840, et seq.) Excessive shrubbery or fences or structures that exceed 10 feet in height may be considered a private nuisance. (California Civil Code Section 841.4)
Generally speaking, you can trim trees or shrubs that extend from your neighbor’s property onto yours, as long as you don’t damage the plants.
As for boundary line fences….. the old saying “good fences make good neighbors” is true. California law reflects that and provides that neighbors sharing a boundary line are equally responsible for the costs of maintaining/replacing the fence:
“Adjoining landowners are presumed to share an equal benefit from any fence dividing their properties and, unless otherwise agreed to by the parties in a written agreement, shall be presumed to be equally responsible for the reasonable costs of construction, maintenance, or necessary replacement of the fence.” Civ. Code § 841(b)(1).
However, if a fence is entirely on the property of one adjoining land owner is not a division fence, there is no mutual responsibility for its upkeep.
Land Use/Zoning Disputes
Los Angeles County and the numerous cities that comprise it (i.e., The City of Culver City, The City of Beverly Hills, The City of West Hollywood, Pasadena, and the like) have municipal codes which govern how land owners can use land owned within their borders. The three main types of districts (“zones”) that are established in a municipality are residential, commercial and industrial zones.
Cities have elaborate restrictions and rules establishing what types of buildings can be built or permitted, the size/height/location of the structures, the number of rooms within the building(s), and more. Problems arise when an owner uses land in a way that violates the municipal codes. For example, your neighbor’s fence could violate the Building & Safety Code if it is outside of the height restrictions. This can create a nuisance for neighbors and jeopardize the public safety. Sometimes owners can even face criminal charges when they allegedly fail to comply with the City’s regulations and building and safety codes.
Landlord and Tenant Disputes – Commercial and Residential
Landlord-tenant disputes can include who is responsible for property repairs, issues of rent, tenant rights, rules on entry and upkeep, and more. Nuisance is a very big issue these days — especially during the pandemic when many people work from home. Jennifer Gardner has concentrated on representing clients in commercial lease disputes.
If a lease is not thoroughly understood or is unclear when signed, misunderstandings frequently lead to disputes. A commercial landlord’s failure to provide services required by a lease can lead to business disputes with a tenant claiming lost profits from interference with business in addition to breach of the lease.
In rent controlled cities, such as The City of West Hollywood, an extra layer of statutory provisions govern the rights and remedies of residential landlords and tenants – often but not always to the tenant’s advantage.
If you are experiencing any of these problems, contact Jennifer B. Gardner to discuss your matter with her and find out what to do to protect your legal rights.