Property Law Developments

Tax foreclosure constitutes a regulatory taking if the city retains proceeds beyond those necessary to pay off the taxes

The Michigan Supreme Court has condemned the practice of keeping all the proceeds of a tax sale of property (done because of failure to pay property taxes) when the city keeps all the proceeds of the sale, even though those are far more than needed to pay the taxes that were due. Rafaeli, LLC v. Oakland County, 2020 Mich. LEXIS 1219 (Mich. 2020)...

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Bank has standing to foreclose despite inability to produce the note on which the mortgage was based

The New Jersey Supreme Court allowed a bank to foreclose on property without direct evidence that it had the right to foreclose. Ordinarily, the foreclosing entity must produce the note that memorializes the underlying debt. The UCC allows foreclosure when notes have been lost, UCC 3-309, if a “lost note affidavit” is filed with the court. In Investors Bank v. Torres, 2020 WL 3550701 (N.J. July 1, 2020), the homeowner borrowed money from one lender who filed a foreclosure action but...

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Neighbor across the street denied standing to challenge a zoning variance

The Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has set a very high bar to obtain standing to object to a building permit. In Murchison v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Sherborn, 2020 WL 4012766 (Mass. 2020), owners across the street from an irregularly shaped lot objected to granting the owner a permit to build on it. The court found no harm that...

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A third case granting a wedding provider a free speech exemption from an antidiscrimination law

For the third time, a court has held that a public accommodations law cannot be enforced against a service provider who objects, for religious reasons, to same sex marriage. Chelsey Nelson Photography, LLC v. Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Gov’t, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146246 (W.D. Ky. 2020). The other two times were: Telescope Media Group...

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Trees planted along border held to constitute a spite fence

The neighbors in the case of Game Place, Tranfield v. Arcuni-English, 215 A.3d 222 (Me. 2019), never got along with each other and quarreled when one owner cut dead limbs on his property to open up a view over the neighbor’s land. The neighbor threatened to erect a high fence to block the view, but instead hired a landscaper who installed 24 trees along the boundary...

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Trump administration withdraws Obama era rules on “affirmatively furthering fair housing” (AFFH)

Although the Fair Housing Act (FHA) requires any government entity managing or receiving federal funds “affirmatively to further fair housing,” (AFFH), 42 U.S.C. §3608(e)(5), enforcement of this provision has been remarkably lax since the passage of the FHA in 1968.

 

The Obama Administration...

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You cannot abandon real property

A helpful precedent can be found in a 1995 trial court ruling in Pennsylvania on the question of abandonment of real property. It is commonly noted that one can abandon personal property by acts that clearly show an intent to relinquish ownership. At the same time, Dean Eduardo Peñalver has shown environmental laws, among others, so heavily regulate the ability to discard personal property, that the “right to abandon” is more illusory than real. Eduardo M. Peñalver,...

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Tenants have the right to receive guests

Affirming a traditional rule of law, the D.C. Court of Appeals held that tenants have the right to receive guests even over the objections of the landlord. Odumn v. United States, 227 A.3d 1099 (D.C. 2020). Defendant was charged with criminal trespass for violating a no-trespass order by the landlord but because he was on the property at the invitation of his aunt, who was a tenant...

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Encroaching tree trunk and roots constitute a trespass under Montana law

The Montana Supreme Court reaffirmed the traditional rule that trees on one’s own land do not unreasonably interfere with the use and enjoyment of neighboring land even if they block the neighbor’s view and so are not nuisances Martin v. Artis, 290 P.3d 687 (Mont. 2012). However, the court held that it is a trespass for the tree’s roots to encroach on the neighbor’s land,...

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