Property Law Developments

External stairway encroachment on neighboring land by one foot is allowed to remain with damages only for the trespass victim

A Massachusetts court has found that a one foot encroachment on neighboring property by a new external stairway on a building is de minimus because the alley is hardly used, and the encroachment is both small and necessary to make the stairway consistent with the building code. Krieger v. Lanark LJS LLC, 2019 Mass. App. Unpub. LEXIS 345, 2019 WL 1976015...

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Nonjudicial foreclosure requires appraisal to ensure foreclosure price is close to fair market value

The Massachusetts Appeals Court has held that nonjudicial foreclosures must be conducted in a fair manner and that the burdens on the party who is foreclosing are greater precisely because the auction sale is not be supervised or conducted by judicial officials. Prop. Acquisition Group, LLC v. Ivester, 2019 Mass. App. LEXIS 44,...

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Washington Supreme Court reaffirms its finding of sexual orientation discrimination by florist

On remand in light of the Supreme Court ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colo. Civil Rights Comm'n,  the Washington Supreme Court unanimously reaffirmed its ruling in State v. Arelene's Flowers, 389 P.3d 543 (Wash 2017), as modified by 2017 Wash. LEXIS 222 (Wash. 2017). Lambda Legal, ...

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Wedding planning website cannot refuse to serve same-sex couples

A Web-based graphic design company that intends to design custom websites for customers planning weddings sought to place a statement explaining the owner's intent not to serve same-sex couples. A federal court has held that this violates the state's public accommodations law because it constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. ...

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"Condition" language creates executory interest, but new executory interests banned unless held by public or charitable entities

In White v. Auger,2019 N.H. LEXIS 4 (N.H. 2019), the grantor conveyed property to a grantee "on condition that" the grantee build on it (or on adjacent land) and live there (within 10 years) created a fee simple subject to executory limitation. State statutes abolished possibilities of reverter, rights of entry, and...

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New York landmarks commission approves electrifying historic clock and denying public access to the clock tower

In Save America's Clocks, Inc. v. City of New York, 2019 WL 1385906 (N.Y. 2019), the New York Court of Appeals overturned lower court rulings that invalidated a decision of the local historic landmarks commission to allow changes to a clock that had been designated a historic landmark both as part of an historic buliding and in its own right. The buyer of the building proposed to privatize the room on the...

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Shooting range may be a nuisance unless state statutes say otherwise

Construing a state statute, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia held that a shooting range cannot constitute a nuisance if it complies with local noise ordinances. However, that statute could not be applied retroactively without violating vested property rights so the plaintiffs in the case were entitled to damages but...

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