Property Dispute Litigation: What Is It and Do You Have a Case?
Something unique about our homes provokes a deep emotional response during disputes. Not only is it the place where we live, but for most families, it is by far the largest financial investment they will make. Combine this with the complexity of modern property conveyances, and one can see why property disputes are so common.
Sometimes these disputes can be resolved, but if not, litigation may be the only way forward.
Common Types of Property Disputes
There are many types of property disputes, but some of them tend to come up over and over again.
Breach of Contract
In a real estate transaction, the most common breaches of contract occur when (1) the buyer backs out of the deal or (2) the seller back out and sells to someone else for a higher price.
In the first scenario, the fight may be over the return of the buyer’s earnest money. Also, if the seller was forced to sell to someone else at a lower price, they may try to recover the difference.
In the second situation, the buyer may seek “specific performance,” i.e., a court order for the seller to complete the original deal at the original price. Of course, judges are reluctant to give such orders, but specific performance may be appropriate if there is something unique about the property.
Failure to Disclose
If a defect affects the value of the property and is not obvious to the buyer, the seller has a duty to disclose that fact. For example, if there are termites in the walls and the seller knew or should have known about it, this is a defect that must be disclosed. On the other hand, if there’s a massive hole in the roof, the seller should notice this on their own.
Boundary disputes arise when neighbors can’t agree on the property line. The boundary may have been poorly marked in the past, or the practical use of the property doesn’t match the legal line. These disputes are common when one party builds an improvement such as a home, shed, or fence close to the property line without surveying first.
There is often conflict between a homeowners association’s common standards and a homeowner’s wish to use their property as they see fit. Litigation may be necessary when the HOA overreaches or the homeowner simply refuses to comply.
Litigation and Other Options
Whether the dispute is between neighbors or a buyer and seller, sometimes the parties can come to some agreement. However, property dispute litigation or mediation, may be necessary if that is not the case.
Especially in a dispute between neighbors, attempting mediation first is usually a good idea. Parties often feel satisfied with mediation results, and neighbors will continue living next to each other for many years. It also tends to be faster and cheaper.
If property dispute litigation is the best option, property owners should hire an attorney. They should also be sure to retain all documentation in their possession. After that, the best thing they can do is be patient because litigation can take a long time.
Speak to the Property Attorney
In a property dispute, your first step should be to gain an understanding of your legal position. Then, determine if you have a case against the other party or if they have a case against you to decide your next steps. Our property litigation attorneys have years of experience in resolving such disputes. We can review your situation, lay out your options, and create a plan for a fair outcome.
Contact our office to set up a consultation today.