Property Law Developments

Outdoor displays at florist shop not a prior conforming use

The Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled that outdoor displays at a florist shop exceeded the scope of prior uses by the store and thus did not constitute a prior nonconforming use that could continue despite new zoning regulations requiring special permit for such uses. Leonard v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of Hanover, 135 N.E.3d 288 (Mass. App. Ct. 2019). Although the court found the prior law to be confusing and badly written,... Read more about Outdoor displays at florist shop not a prior conforming use

Regulatory takings claim against United States for reservoir design that foreseeably flooded upstream properties after Tropical Storm Harvey

The Court of Federal Claims has held the United States responsible for a regulatory taking because it created reservoirs and dams that it knew, or should have known, would overflow onto neighboring property and did nothing to stop that from happening. In re Upstream Addicks and Barker (Texas) Flood-Control Reservoirs, 2019 WL 6873696 (Fed. Cl...

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Landlord may be liable for fair housing violation if no response to one tenant's racial harassment of another

 

In the case of Francis v. King's Park Manor, Inc., 2019 WL 6646495 (2d Cir. 2019), a tenant engaged in a vicious campaign of abuse and intimidation of another tenant, coming to his door and threatening to kill him and repeatedly yelling at him and calling him the...

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Proceeds of partition by sale divided according to ownership interests without any credit given to co-owner whose funds were used to buy the property

Because the Texas partition statute requires the proceeds of a partition sale to be divided "according to [the owners'] just rights therein," joint tenants were entitled to 50% of the sale proceeds even though one of the co-owners had used his own funds to purchase the property. ...

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Landlords and condo associations may be liable for discrimination by tenants or unit owners against other occupants if they are aware of the conduct and take no action to stop it

New regulations adopted in 2016 provide that a discriminatory housing practice includes "[f]ailing to take prompt action to correct and end a discriminatory housing practice by a third-party, where the person knew or should have known of the discriminatory conduct and had the power to correct it." 24 C.F.R. §100.7(a)(iii),...

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Rules governing court-ordered rental payments while eviction litigation is pending

When a landlord sued to evict a tenant for failure to pay rent, the court ordered to make rental payments (for "use and occupancy") during trial. The Massachusetts Appeals Court held that before ordering such payments, the trial judge must hold a hearing to determine whether the payments should be reduced because of defective conditions in the property....

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