Property Law Developments

Oregon Appeals Court affirms application of state public accommodations law to cake shop that refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple

In Klein v. Or. Bureau of Labor & Indus., 2017 Ore.App. LEXIS 1598 (2017), the Court of Appeals of Oregon affirmed an administrative finding that Sweetcakes by Melissa violated the state public accommodations law when it refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. The case is similar to the Masterpiece Cakeshop case currently being considered by the US Supreme Court because the cake shop based its claim on the...

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Dog breeding as commercial use that violates covenant limiting property to residential purposes

The Massachusetts Land Court held that an owner who housed, bred, and sold dogs on his property (and obtained a commerical license to do so up to 12 dogs) violated a restrictive covenant limiting the property to residential use. Clish v. Paradise, 2017 Mass. LCR LEXIS 5, 2017 WL 72055, 25 LCR 13 (Mass. Land Ct. 2017).  Read more about Dog breeding as commercial use that violates covenant limiting property to residential purposes

Supreme Court denies certiorari in inclusionary zoning case

As it has in the past, the Supreme Court has refused to review a state court opinion that upheld a local ordinance that required housing developers to pay a fee to be used for the development of affordable housing.  616 Croft Ave. LLC v. City of W. Hollywood, 207 Cal. Rptr.3d 729 (Ct. App. 2016), cert. denied, 2017 WL 1064331 (Oct. 30, 2017). The lower court opinion relied on an earlier ruling by the...

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Appurtenants easements cannot be used to access after-acquired land next to the dominant estate

The Massachusetts Land Court has reaffirmed and applied the traditional rule that an appurtenant easement cannot be used to access after-acquired property next to the dominant estate. Kent v. Roma III, Ltd., 2016 WL 6908191 (Mass. Land Ct. 2016). The court noted that the Restatement (Third) of Property (Servitudes) §4.11, cmt. b suggests that in exceptional cases, damages might be awarded rather than... Read more about Appurtenants easements cannot be used to access after-acquired land next to the dominant estate

Option to purchase property valid if exercised within the USRAP 30 year period

The Massachusetts Land Court has held that a commercial option to purchase property may be exercised nine years after the right to exercise the option ripened (because of failure to fulfill a condition by a set date). Pinewood Road, Inc. v. Kuntz, 2017 WL 361172 (Mass. Land Ct. 2017). The court noted the traditional rule that an option to purchase real property "that does not supply a time limit for it exercise must be...

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"Massachusetts rule" reaffirmed: no liability if an overhanging tree damages neighboring property

A Massachusetts court has reaffirmed the "Massachusetts rule" that "an individual whose property is damaged by an overhanging tree has no cause of action against a landowner of the property upon which the tree lies." Shiel v. Rowell, 2017 WL 3616892 (Mass. App. Div. 2017), citing Ponte v. DaSilva, 446 N.E.2d 77 (Mass. 1983). The court noted the contrary "Hawaii rule" that does make a tree owner financially responsible if her own trees overhangs neighboring property and damages it.

First Circuit resolves dispute over religious real and personal property by reference to formal agreements

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has resolved a longstanding and complicated dispute between two congregations over control of the real and personal property of the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island. In an opinion by Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., the trial court had found that an implied or constructive trust existed by which a New York Congregation Shearith Israel (CSI) held title to the property for the benefit of the Newport Rhode Island Congregation Jeshuat Israel (CJI)....

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Out of court admission of permission from prior owners can defeat claim for adverse possession

The Wyoming Supreme Court has held that out of court statements made by an alleged adverse possessor that he was using the property with permission of the prior owners can be admitted to rebut the presumption that the use was nonpermissive. Galiher v. Johnson, , 2017 WY 31, 391 P.3d 1011 (Wyo. 2017) Read more about Out of court admission of permission from prior owners can defeat claim for adverse possession