Selecting a firm to handle your real estate transaction is critical to its long-term success. At Easler Law, our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of real estate law.
We draft and review lease agreements, work with financial institutions to draft and review financing and loan documents, landowners to help with tenant evictions, help real estate developers and owners of both residential and commercial property deal with zoning and land use issues, and represent clients in disputes involving real estate, including, partitions.
What Real Estate Law Covers
Real estate law is a broad and complex area of law that covers the ownership and use of real property, including land and buildings. It encompasses numerous state and federal statutes that affect fundamental property rights and interests. While real estate law is primarily state law, federal laws are essential in many aspects of real estate transactions.
Federal and State Laws Govern Real Estate
While the specifics of these laws can vary from state to state, understanding the basics of real estate law can help you avoid any legal pitfalls during your next property purchase or sale.
Some of the most important real estate laws that you should be aware of include:
The Truth in Lending Act
This federal law requires lenders to provide borrowers with clear information about the terms of their loans. This includes the borrowed amount, the interest rate, and other associated fees.
The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
This federal law governs how closing costs and other fees are handled during a real estate transaction. It also requires lenders to provide borrowers with a Good Faith Estimate of all settlement costs at least three days before closing.
The Fair Housing Act
This federal law prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or familial status. This law applies to buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
This federal law requires all new commercial construction and renovations to be accessible to people with disabilities. This includes features like wheelchair ramps and braille signage.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
This federal law provides certain protections for military service members called to active duty. For example, it allows service members to break a lease without penalty if they need to move due to orders.
In addition to these federal laws, each state has its real estate laws that must be followed. These laws cover everything from how property is titled and transferred to what disclosures must be made during a sale.
Common Real Estate Disputes
When two parties are involved in a real estate transaction, there is always the potential for dispute. Whether it's a disagreement over the purchase price, a problem with the property itself, or something else entirely, real estate disputes can be time-consuming and expensive to resolve.
Some of the most common real estate disputes include:
Evictions in Florida: The eviction process in Florida can be complicated and often requires the assistance of an attorney. There are specific procedures that must be followed for an eviction to be legal, and if the landlord does not follow these procedures, the tenant may have grounds to challenge the eviction.
Disputes over the purchase price: If the parties can't agree on a purchase price, the sale may fall through. Often, these disputes can be resolved through negotiation or mediation.
Issues with the property: There may be problems that were not disclosed before the sale. For example, the seller might have failed to disclose that the property has a serious structural issue or an issue with the property title that might need to be resolved, and disagreements over repairs or renovations. For example, If one party wants to make repairs or renovations to the property, but the other party doesn't agree, this can lead to a dispute.
HOA disputes: Homeowners' associations (HOAs) can be a source of friction between homeowners and the association itself. Common HOA disputes include disagreements over assessments, fines, or enforcing rules and regulations.
Tenant Evictions: If a tenant is not paying rent or is otherwise in violation of their lease agreement, the landlord may want to evict them. However, the eviction process can be complicated and often requires the assistance of an attorney.
Boundary disputes: If two neighbors can't agree on where their property lines end, this can and Border disputes: If two neighbors disagree over where their property lines end, this can lead to a border dispute. These disputes can be resolved through mediation, arbitration, or litigation.
Easement disputes: An easement is a right to use someone else's property for a specific purpose, such as access to a shared driveway. If there's a disagreement over an easement, it may need to be resolved through mediation or arbitration.
Construction defects: If there are problems with a new construction project, the builder may be liable for defects. For example, if the builder fails to meet code requirements, uses subpar materials, or doesn't adequately supervise the construction crew, this can lead to a construction defects dispute.
Foreclosures: The lender may begin foreclosure if a homeowner falls behind on their mortgage payments. However, certain protections are in place for homeowners, and the foreclosure process can be complicated. Speak with an attorney as soon as possible if you're facing foreclosure.
Liens: A lien is a legal claim against a property. For example, if a contractor wasn't paid for work they completed, they may place a lien on the property. This can complicate the sale of the property and may need to be resolved before the sale can go through.
Partitions: If two or more people own a property together but no longer want to be joint owners, they may need to go through a partition action. This is a legal process that divides the property between the parties.
Zoning disputes: If someone wants to build on a property, they must ensure that the property is zoned for that type of development. If the property isn't zoned correctly, this can lead to a zoning dispute. These disputes are often resolved through mediation or litigation.
Eminent domain: Eminent domain is the power of the government to take private property for public use. This can be a controversial issue and often leads to litigation. For example, if the government wants to build a highway through someone's property, they may use eminent domain to take the land.
Deed Fraud: Deed fraud occurs when someone illegally transfers the deed to a property to another person. This can happen without the owner's knowledge or consent. Deed fraud is a severe crime that can lead to property loss.
Homestead Rights and Protection in Florida: Homestead rights protect a homeowner's equity in their property up to $500,000. This protection is available to all Florida residents who own and occupy their home as their primary residence.
Squatters' Rights in Florida: Squatters' rights are a controversial issue in Florida. Generally, squatters do not have any legal rights to the property they occupy. However, there are some exceptions, such as when the squatter has made improvements to the property or has been living on the property for a certain period.
How to Prevent Common Real Estate Disputes
There are several things you can do to prevent common real estate disputes:
Hire a qualified real estate attorney: A real estate attorney can help you navigate the legal process and ensure that your rights are protected.
Review all documents carefully: Before signing any contract or agreement, review it carefully. If you don't understand something, ask an attorney.
Keep good records: Good record keeping is important in any real estate transaction. Be sure to keep copies of all contracts, documents, and correspondence. This will be helpful if there is a dispute later on.
Communicate with your real estate agent: If you have any concerns or questions, communicate with your real estate agent. They can help you understand the process and may be able to resolve any issues before they become a problem.
Be prepared for the worst: While it's important to hope for the best, it's also important to be prepared for the worst. If a dispute arises, be sure to have all your documents and records in order. This will help you prove your case and protect your interests.
When Should You Hire a Real Estate Attorney
If you are involved in a real estate transaction, it is crucial to have an experienced real estate attorney on your side. An attorney can help you understand your rights and options and protect your interests throughout the process. Here are some everyday situations when you should hire a real estate attorney:
You are buying or selling a property: A real estate attorney can help you review and negotiate the purchase contract. They can also assist with closing and ensure everything is in order.
You are involved in a real estate dispute: If you have a dispute with your real estate agent, landlord, or tenant, an attorney can help you resolve the issue. They can also represent you in court, if necessary.
You are facing foreclosure: If you are facing foreclosure, an attorney can help you understand your options and work to save your home.
You need help with a real estate transaction: If you are unsure about any aspect of a real estate transaction, an attorney can provide guidance and ensure that everything is handled correctly.
You need a second opinion: If you have a question or have already hired a real estate attorney but are unsure about their advice, you may want to get a second opinion. This can help you make sure that you are making the best decision for your situation.
You want peace of mind: Ultimately, hiring a real estate attorney can give you peace. Knowing that you have an experienced professional on your side can make the process much less stressful.
You have been served with papers: If you have been served with papers related to a real estate dispute, it is vital to hire an attorney immediately. An attorney can help you understand the papers and protect your rights.
Why Hire a Real Estate Attorney
Real estate law can be complex, and real estate transactions can be stressful. Hiring a real estate attorney can give you peace of mind and ensure that your interests are protected. Here are some reasons to hire a real estate attorney:
They understand the law: A real estate attorney is experienced in real estate law and can help you navigate the legal process.
They will protect your interests: Your real estate attorney will have your best interests at heart and will work to protect them throughout the process.
They can save you time: A real estate attorney can handle all the paperwork and legwork involved in a real estate transaction, so you don't have to. This can save you a lot of time and stress.
They can save you money: oftentimes, a real estate attorney can save you money. For example, they may be able to negotiate a lower purchase price for you.