Property and real estate law varies from state to state. Some states even require a lawyer to oversee real estate transactions and be present at the time of closing. Although Minnesota is not one of those states that require a lawyer to purchase real estate, many people hire one anyway. Real estate law is confusing and affects everyone – homeowners, renters, and landlords. Due to the confusion surrounding real estate, it is common for property buyers to hire a real estate lawyer to help them understand exactly what’s going on, file important documents, and guide them through each step of the buying process.
What is a Real Estate Lawyer?
The definition of a real estate lawyer is a legal professional who is licensed and specializes in the legal aspects of buying and selling real estate. These lawyers work with individuals as well as corporations.
In short, a real estate lawyer is someone you can trust to represent your interests throughout a legal process that involves property.
What Does Minnesota Real Estate Law Cover?
Minnesota real estate laws and regulations include many different topics related to purchasing and selling a property, which refers to the land and everything on it, from structures to appliances and fixtures. A trustworthy real estate lawyer will be able to assist you with any combination of the following topics and guide you to make the best decision for your situation.
- Commercial Real Estate
- Residential Real Estate
- Landlords and Tenant Relationships
- Mortgages and Foreclosure Law
- Land Use and Zoning
- Real Estate Litigation
- Title Examination
- Quiet Title Actions
What Does a Minnesota Real Estate Lawyer Do?
Real estate law covers an awful lot, which means real estate lawyers do an awful lot. They document and examine real estate transactions (i.e., purchases, leases, inspections, appraisals). If something goes wrong, these lawyers support you by filing and defending lawsuits in court. Real estate lawyers also handle quiet title actions, landlord-tenant relationships, and mortgage forbearance and deferment.
The ultimate purpose of a real estate lawyer is to protect you from the unexpected and foster an easy, minimum-stress legal process. Let’s dive into the ways real estate lawyers serve their clients.
Document and Review Real Estate Transactions
Some people hire real estate lawyers for peace of mind throughout their property transactions. Lawyers are trained to zero in on problems that would ordinarily go unnoticed by a client. In this scenario, the lawyer acts as a guardian to make sure their client doesn’t fall into any traps. The client will negotiate a deal on their own, sign a contract, and simply ask the lawyer to examine any legal title or environmental issues, and any contracts or other related documents.
Quiet Title Actions
A real property title that needs to be cleared in order to establish a persons’ title to that same property is called a quiet title action lawsuit. This type of legal proceeding usually stems from a dispute between co-borrowers, co-owners, or from a party on a deed of trust that no longer exists. Quiet actions are filed for a few reasons:
- Resolve administrative errors that left liens on the property.
- Establish full ownership of the property
- Amend errors in a property title
- Solve quitclaim deed issues
The purpose of filing a quiet title is to ‘quiet’ any claims or challenges to a title.
What About Rentals? Landlord-Tenant Relationships
The 1968 Fair Housing Act outlines legal protections for homebuyers and renters. This Act establishes minimum standards for rental conditions. If any of these standards are not met, landlords must face the consequences. Regardless of the property type you’re renting, the landlord is bound by law to maintain the property so that it’s fit for living, according to the Fair Housing Act terms. Although the minute details of the Act vary from state to state, the Act ensures the following for tenants nationwide:
- Restriction on raising rent
- A right to privacy
- A right to call an inspector or emergency services
- Refunds are offered to renters that meet the income qualifications (This isn’t nationwide, but it does apply to Minnesota)
Land Use vs. Zoning
Although land use and zoning laws have defined and will continue to define the look of our surroundings, they are famously confusing. Land use doesn’t have a universal definition. One way it can be defined is land that is characterized by its potential uses and what is already there. Zoning refers to government land regulations that are codified in local zoning laws or ordinances. The sticking point here is that land use is flexible, and zoning is bound by law. Zoning laws can only be changed once a public hearing has been held to discuss the amendment and the amendment has been approved. This is where a real estate lawyer comes in. There is a ton of legal jargon surrounding zoning laws and a public hearing that has to take place. Even land use can require some legal assistance to change in some cases.
Mortgage Forbearance and Deferment
If a homeowner is struggling to make their mortgage payments, foreclosure isn’t the first option. It’s the last resort. Mortgage forbearance or mortgage deferment are the two available options to avoid foreclosure. Although forbearance and deferment are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. Mortgage forbearance is the first step, and deferment is the second. Not everyone will qualify for these options. To pursue either option, one of the following criteria must be met:
- Still lawfully occupy the home
- The home is your principal residence
- Monthly expenses must be a certain percentage of monthly income
- The lending bank must state an expense-to-income ratio.
The first option to explore when mortgage payments can’t be made is forbearance. This simply means pausing your mortgage payments temporarily. The borrower and the lender will come to an agreement to halt or reduce payments for a certain amount of time (not longer than twelve months). The payments will have to be paid back once the period of forbearance is over. Repayments can be made in full or up to twelve installments. There may or may not be interest; it depends on the agreement.
The second option to follow forbearance is deferment, which means the borrower and the lender suspend loan payments for a certain period of time and increase the loan’s term. With a deferment, the borrower doesn’t have to pay back the amount owed right away. Instead, it is added to the end of the loan’s term. Again, interest may or not be a factor. It depends on the agreement.
If you’re unable to make your monthly payments, seek help from a real estate lawyer before it’s too late and foreclosure is the only choice.
Foreclosure is typically a scary and confusing process. When a homeowner defaults on their loan, the bank tries to cover the amount by forcibly taking ownership of and selling the home. Default happens when a homeowner misses a certain number of payments or fails to meet other loan requirements. If the mortgage forbearance and deferment options have been exhausted and foreclosure is the only option, call a real estate lawyer.
Some homes are foreclosed on even though foul play was involved because the owner didn’t call a lawyer. There are many reasons to fight a foreclosure, including:
- The loan servicer broke from standard procedures
- The foreclosing entity can’t prove it owns your loan
- The service made a mistake
- Military Service (Military service members receive special conditions under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act)
- The bank engaged in dual tracking
Even if payments truly can’t be made, but you want to keep your home, a real estate lawyer can still help.
Do I Need a Real Estate Lawyer?
If you’re wondering when to hire a real estate lawyer, there are many factors at play. Depending on the situation, you may have to hire legal assistance no matter what. Basically, whether or not you need a real estate lawyer depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you feel confident in your ability to navigate the home buying, mortgage forbearance, mortgage deferment, or foreclosure processes, that’s up to you. Should you need to take your landlord to court, amend a zoning law, or settle a quiet title action, you will certainly need legal aid.
Oftentimes, lawyers provide clients with peace of mind, which is priceless. Any of the legal processes that have been discussed have huge, life-long implications, which is why many people find it liberating, in the end, to have hired a real estate lawyer. While we practice many areas of the law at Cline Jensen, PLLC, we do real estate law, and we do it well. If you’re in need of legal advice on real estate or any other matter, schedule a free consultation today.Read More
Land use and zoning are two different concepts with a lot of overlap, so much overlap that the terms are often confused. These concepts are actually fundamental to what all of our communities and daily lives look like. They are the underlying factors that guide what can be built, when it can be built, and where it can be built.
Gaining a working understanding of land use and zoning laws in Minnesota will help you better navigate real estate transactions, understand your rights as a property owner, and understand how your community is built and organized. Let’s unpack land use and zoning laws in Minnesota, what they are and why they matter.
What is Land Use?
Land use is a bit of a loose term because it doesn’t have a universal definition. However, it’s usually defined as land characterization based on its potential uses and what is already there. It can also refer to the way land-owners adapt their own land. It’s associated with planning, control, and property rights. Land use policies are not uniform across the nation, but almost every jurisdiction regulates land use and development within its boundaries. Minnesota land use laws are primarily related to property rights and conservation.
Why Does This Matter?
If you are a land-owner or buyer, you must understand how your property can be used. Land use is flexible to a degree; nothing is cut and dry. It balances your rights as a private property owner with the character of the community overall. Understanding your property rights and how your land can be used might help you avoid disputes like quiet action lawsuits.
What is Zoning?
Zoning refers to government land regulations that are codified in local zoning laws or ordinances. It is how a community is divided into different districts or zones, where some activities are allowed, and others are prohibited. Governments use zoning as a development planning control tool that bases regulation and land use restrictions on a prearranged plan. It governs where residential and commercial structures can be built across urban, suburban, and rural areas. The ultimate purpose of zoning laws is to preserve the value of land use. Minnesota zoning laws encourage goals and objectives for the preservation of agricultural, forest, wildlife, and open space land, as well as the minimization of development in sensitive shoreland areas.
How Does Zoning Work?
According to 2020 Minnesota statute 462.357, if a Minnesota municipality plans to utilize previously unused, unzoned land, they must first create a land use plan. Only after the plan has been created and the goals and policies of the land use plan have been reviewed can a zoning ordinance be proposed and submitted to the governing body for review. No zoning ordinance or amendment to an existing ordinance can be adopted until a public hearing has been held and it’s been approved.
Why Does This Matter?
If you are a land-owner or buyer, you have to be aware of zoning laws before making any large changes to your property or before you purchase a property. Once a zoning ordinance has been put in place, it defines how you can use your property. There is no flexibility with zoning like there is with land use. To alter a zoning ordinance, you have to engage your local government in legal proceedings and await the result of a public hearing.
Difference Between Zoning and Land Use
Zoning and land use are so closely related that, in order to fully understand them and why they’re important, their differences need to be understood. The basic differences between zoning and land use lie in their designations, classifications, and purpose.
Land is managed via land use designations, which specify how to manage land and the resources it contains.
Zoning designations fully define the laws and regulations that govern property development and how it can be used.
There are six primary types of land use:
Zoning can be classified as one of four types:
- Functional zoning is the most common form of zoning and simply means zones are allocated according to land use, and each land use zone is subject to different regulations.
- Incentive zoning is usually part of renovation projects allowing developers to build residential, commercial, or industrial structures in certain areas based on tax abatement and infrastructure.
- Form-based zoning focuses on physical characteristics related to the structure of a city like downtown, uptown, manufacturing district, historical district, etc.
- Intensity zoning is defined by the level of permitted intensity or density of people and structures. This is ideal for urban planning because it’s so flexible. Developers can construct whatever they want as long as it adheres to density constraints.
Land use describes the process of organizing the ways land can be used and must first be established before a zoning ordinance can be enforced for that area of land.
Zoning defines the rules and laws that govern precisely how land may or may not be used across cities and towns and is the most common form of land use regulation.
How Can Cline Jensen PLLC Help?
Minnesota state laws around land use and zoning are full of legal jargon that can be difficult to interpret or parse out on your own. If you have questions or concerns about these laws as they relate to your property, contact our law professionals at Cline Jensen PLLC. We have attorneys who specialize in municipal and township law, which covers land use and zoning. If you’re thinking about buying or selling property, our real estate lawyers can represent your interests throughout the entire process and ensure the property you intend to purchase is appropriately zoned for your purposes.Read More
Facing foreclosure can be scary. It may come with feelings of stress and shame, which keep you from reaching out for help at the right moment. There is quite a bit of confusion surrounding the topic of foreclosure and when to hire an attorney. Not all cases of foreclosure require an attorney, but many do.
It’s truly heartbreaking when an attorney could have made all the difference in a foreclosure case but wasn’t contacted in time. Prevent this from happening to you and your loved ones by learning when it’s time to hire a foreclosure attorney.
What is Foreclosure?
Before you can understand when to hire a foreclosure attorney, you’ve got to understand the basic meaning of foreclosure. Foreclosure is a legal process in which a lender (the bank) tries to recover the amount owed on a defaulted loan by taking ownership of and selling the mortgaged property (your house). Default is most commonly triggered by a borrower missing a certain number of payments. Still, it can also be triggered by the borrower’s failure to meet any other terms established by the mortgage document.
Typically, your lender must mail you a letter called a “breach letter,” notifying you that the foreclosure process will begin if you can’t catch up on your payments. Before you reach the point of foreclosure, check to see if you qualify for mortgage forbearance or deferment. You can save your home despite any financial troubles you may be experiencing.
Consequences of Foreclosure
Unfortunately, foreclosure is very serious and can have some long-lasting personal and financial consequences, such as:
- Eviction: You’ll lose your home and, potentially, other valuable assets.
- Damaged credit: Credit affects everything from your access to housing, loans, and sometimes employment opportunities. It can take years to reestablish good credit.
- Inability to purchase another home: According to Fannie Mae guidelines, when your home is foreclosed, you’re ineligible to get a mortgage to buy another home for at least seven years.
- Degraded mental health: The process of going through home foreclosure is known to be stressful and embarrassing due to the uncertainty of your housing and financial situations being revealed.
- Owing more money: Depending on the health of the housing market, you may still owe money after your home has been foreclosed on.
How Do I Know it’s Time to Get Help?
Even if you’ve already exhausted your mortgage forbearance and deferment options and received a breach letter, foreclosure can still be prevented. Once you’ve received the breach letter, you should call an attorney.
Although you may not realize that an attorney can help you, you must get help if you think you have a defense against foreclosure. Some examples of a defense against foreclosure are:
- The loan servicer didn’t follow standard foreclosure procedures.
- The foreclosing entity can’t prove it owns your loan.
- The servicer made an error.
- Military service (the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act provides special circumstances to military members)
- The bank engaged in dual tracking (the bank proceeds with the foreclosure while negotiating the homeowner’s application for a loan modification simultaneously)
What Does a Foreclosure Attorney Do?
Fighting a foreclosure means filing documents with the court, understanding the rules of evidence, and much more. An experienced attorney can help you successfully navigate these confusing procedures.
By waiting too long to hire an attorney, you risk missing important deadlines. If your home is officially foreclosed on before you seek legal aid, you may not be able to get your home back, even if there was wrongdoing in the process. When an attorney is allowed enough time, they may be able to cut a deal with the bank that avoids foreclosure and going to court altogether.
If you’re wondering, “What can a foreclosure attorney do for me?” here are some examples of ways they can create solutions to your foreclosure problems:
An attorney can negotiate a loan modification agreement between you and the lender that changes the loan’s original terms.
Loss Mitigation Information
Like Fair Housing Administration (FHA) loans, certain loan types contain special loss mitigation clauses that will let you shift your balance into good standing.
Make Sure Lenders Follow Rules
Lenders aren’t always as helpful as they should be, despite strict federal and sometimes state laws that lenders must follow. An attorney can make sure all the rules have been followed and that you’re aware of all the options available to you.
Help you File for Bankruptcy
Many people whose homes are foreclosed on don’t have the money to cover expensive legal battles, or their lender won’t modify their loan. In this case, an attorney can help you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
How to Hire an Attorney
Hiring an attorney doesn’t have to be difficult, particularly because you already know what type of attorney you need. If you’re ready to fight for your home, there are a few steps you can take to hire a foreclosure attorney.
- Schedule a consultation via phone or in-person. Most lawyers will do this without charge or for a fee.
- Explain what’s going on and who is involved. If it doesn’t feel like a good match, call someone else.
- Tell the truth. An attorney can only help you if you share all the details of your situation.
- Ask for an estimate. How much are attorney fees for foreclosure? Attorney fees vary widely, so that’s a conversation you’ll want to have.
- Understand the risks. Know what you’re willing to lose and draw clear boundaries.
- Hire an experienced attorney. A lawyer who knows what they’re doing will guide you through this difficult process with confidence and ease.
Cline Jensen PLLC Can Help You Keep Your Home
You only stand to gain from knowing your rights, whether you own a home or rent a home. By taking the time to learn what proper lender-borrower conduct looks like, you’re less likely to be taken advantage of and more likely to know when legal aid is needed. If you need a power of attorney to help keep your home from foreclosure or any other legal matter, Cline Jensen PLLC is here for you. Our attorneys are thorough, reliable, and proactive. Get the professional help you need to solve your legal troubles today. Visit our website to learn about our areas of practice and schedule a free consultation.Read More
Suppose you’re a homeowner that is having trouble making your mortgage payments. In that case, it may be time to look into mortgage forbearance or deferment, as these alternatives will help you avoid foreclosure. While both terms are often utilized interchangeably, there are minute differences between the two. Forbearance simply means pausing your mortgage payment, while deferment is an option once a forbearance term is completed to take care of any missed mortgage payments. If you’re experiencing financial hardship that’s impacting your ability to pay your mortgage, seeking guidance from an experienced real estate lawyer can be beneficial.
How Do You Qualify for Mortgage Forbearance or Deferment?
Mortgage forbearance and deferment are very similar, meaning they are often used interchangeably by lenders. The eligibility period is determined by the lender but is usually no more than one year. Those interested in pursuing mortgage forbearance or deferment must meet one or more of the following requirements to qualify:
- Home cannot be permanently vacated
- Home must be the borrower’s principal residence
- An expense-to-income ratio must be stated by the lending bank
- Borrower’s monthly expenses must be a certain percentage of their monthly income
Exploring Mortgage Forbearance
A mortgage forbearance is a temporary agreement between a borrower and lender to suspend or reduce payments for an allotted amount of time. Many in today’s economy request a mortgage forbearance if they’ve recently experienced a form of financial setback such as job loss, prolonged illness, or injury.
How Does It Work?
The lender involved in a forbearance agreement agrees to accept reduced payments or no payments for a time frame of no longer than 12 months. Once the forbearance period ends, the borrower or property owner is required to resume payments, repay the amount owed during the forbearance period, and any interest or additional fees. Repayments can be made in full or up to 12 installments, which are usually added to the predetermined regular monthly payments. Forbearance agreements are generally requested for mortgages; however, each scenario works differently depending on the borrower’s unique situation.
Homeowners may request a mortgage forbearance if they need to catch up on payments and avoid foreclosure. It’s common for lenders to request proof that a homeowner is experiencing a temporary financial hardship along with assurance and a plan that the borrower will be capable of paying back the owed amount once the forbearance period ends. Any foreclosure proceedings are halted during the forbearance period, and the borrower can make reduced payments or no payments at all. If financial hardship lasts longer than anticipated or funds aren’t available to make repayments, a loan modification may be an option between the lender and borrower.
What About Interest?
On mortgage forbearance, interest will accrue unless the lender states otherwise. Interest accrues on skipped or lowered payments in mortgage forbearance, meaning the borrower must pay back what is owed during the forbearance period along with accrued interest.
Mortgage Forbearance and Your Credit Score
A borrower’s credit score may be affected if the lender reports a mortgage forbearance to the credit bureau. If the borrower wishes to refinance or purchase a new home, reestablishment as a credible borrower must be achieved by repaying the full amount owed. A temporarily lowered credit score from a mortgage forbearance is better than a missed payment and helps avoid foreclosure, which would then stay on the borrower’s credit report for seven years.
Exploring Mortgage Deferment
A mortgage deferment is a temporary agreement between a borrower and lender to delay or suspend loan payments for an allotted amount of time. Many in today’s economy request a mortgage deferment if experiencing financial hardship as it temporarily halts required repayments. Those choosing a mortgage deferment may experience higher monthly payments and a loan term increase as a result.
How Does It Work?
Payments are suspended during a deferment period similar to forbearance, but for a shorter amount of time. Borrowers are also not required to pay back the owed amount all at once, which differs from a mortgage forbearance. Instead, any owed amount is added to the end of the loan’s term, thus increasing the loan term overall. Every situation is unique, meaning deferred payments work differently based on individual circumstances.
When applying for a mortgage deferment, the lender will likely ask the borrower for a brief explanation outlining why payment deferment is necessary. It’s common for lenders to consider a borrower’s credit score and report before deciding. While mortgage deferment may seem like a viable solution in the here and now, it may be more beneficial to explore refinancing options as financial hardships can often last longer than expected.
What About Interest?
Whether or not a borrower is charged interest during mortgage deferment depends on the type of loan and the lender’s decision. A borrower may be responsible for the accrued interest during the payment postponement period but might not be if the interest rate only applies to the principal balance. This means that the borrower will not be charged additional interest on the accrued interest. Once payments are restarted, accrued interest during the mortgage deferment period may be applied to your principal balance along with your interest rate resulting in more accumulated interest once regular payments are resumed.
Mortgage Deferment and Your Credit Score
A borrower’s credit score is usually not impacted by mortgage deferment once the lender reports the agreement to the credit bureau. However, if the borrower stops making payments or misses a payment, their credit score could be impacted. Approval for mortgage deferment may be granted after the agreement with the lender has already started, meaning payments must continue to be made on time until verification of deferred payments is received to avoid damaging your credit score and history.
How Can a Real Estate Lawyer Help?
Experiencing financial hardship is already stressful and can often be challenging to navigate. A real estate lawyer experienced in mortgage forbearance and deferment can help property owners avoid foreclosure, so you can catch up on past due amounts owed to your lender. Mortgage forbearance and deferment can benefit both the lender and borrower as the borrower will be released from the obligation to pay the mortgage loan during financial hardship, and the lender will no longer be required to sell the property. Instead, the lender agrees to work side by side with you to keep you in your home in the most affordable way possible.
You Don’t Have to Lose Your Home
Here at Cline Jensen PLLC, we understand how daunting financial hardship can be. Whether you’re experiencing financial hardship due to an illness or a worldwide event, it doesn’t mean foreclosure is your only option. Your home comes with a large investment, but it’s also the foundation of your life. Contact a dedicated real estate attorney with experience in mortgage forbearance and deferment, so you can explore all available options with guidance from an expert.Read More
Have you recently found a new rental property, or are experiencing issues with your current landlord? Becoming aware of your rights as a renter is extremely important. Each state caters to tenants under a specific set of state and local laws to ensure they are protected and residing in a safe establishment. Suppose you’ve found yourself in a situation that you’re unsure how to handle, such as a landlord not caring for the building correctly, raising your rent without notice, or visiting your residence with no warning. In that case, it’s encouraged to seek guidance from an experienced real estate attorney immediately.
What Are Renter’s Rights?
The Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968, which protects you as a renter or homebuyer. The Act was created to provide all Americans an equal opportunity to find housing without being discriminated against. Landlords are also prohibited from providing an unsafe or unhealthy living environment for tenants. Should a landlord or tenant break any of the rules laid out in the Fair Housing Act, eviction, lease termination, and withholding of payments can occur. Tenant’s rights vary by state and local laws but are ultimately in place to keep each party safe and ensure the renter has the necessary privacy, safety, and habitability on a landlord’s property with no discrimination.
Upon renting any property, it’s encouraged for renters to review the lease provided by the landlord in full, so you fully understand what guidelines and rules you’re agreeing to. Renters are encouraged to take photos before moving into a unit, so the original condition is accounted for. Looking into renter’s insurance can also be worthwhile as this will help protect your belongings in the event of theft or damage. Additionally, establishing open and transparent communication with your landlord right off the bat will help form a positive landlord-tenant relationship and promptly ensure any necessary repairs are completed.
Landlords Must Maintain Their Properties
Whether you’re renting an apartment, townhome, or house, your landlord must maintain the property, so it’s fit for living. Repairs must be completed promptly with little to no delay, and the environment must be maintained to meet state and local health and safety laws. In Minnesota, any reported damages must be corrected within 14 days of notice; otherwise, a tenant could take further actions against the landlord. There are instances where a landlord may have the tenant complete light maintenance tasks such as yard work, but all stipulations must be agreed upon by both parties.
Many tenants are unaware that landlords can pay for tenant improvements (TI), which can include upgrades to the physical space based on the tenant’s unique needs. Landlords may compensate the tenant for their improvements or discount monthly rent, so the remaining funds can be utilized for improvements. Tenant improvements are expected for medical tenants as spaces may require specific ceiling heights, additional plumbing, and cabinet space. Regardless of your situation, it’s encouraged to inquire about tenant improvements should this apply to you before you sign your lease.
Rent Raise Restrictions
A lease provides a definite term not only for the duration of time spent in the rented property but how much the tenant will pay in rent and many more important factors. Your landlord cannot raise the rent at any point during the lease time frame unless otherwise noted in the lease itself. Landlords must give tenants proper and timely notice of changes to rent, which is typically one rental period plus one day. If your landlord doesn’t inform you of increases to your rent, it’s recommended to bring it to their attention as you should be given a grace period for lack of information.
Your Right to Privacy
Every tenant has a right to privacy, meaning your landlord can’t enter your property any time they want. A landlord is only allowed to enter your property for reasonable business purposes, such as performing maintenance work, showing the unit to prospective tenants, buyers, or agents, and checking on a tenant who is causing disturbances or may be violating their lease. Regardless of the reasoning, a landlord is required to give you substantial notice before entering your property. Of course, there are exceptions for these guidelines if the renter’s safety or well-being is questioned. If a landlord violates your privacy, you may be eligible to take the landlord to court to break your lease, recover your damage deposit, and even receive payment for each violation.
Calling an Inspector or Emergency Services
Tenants have the right to call inspectors, police, and other emergency personnel services at any time. Landlords cannot restrict your ability, evict, or otherwise penalize you for doing so. For example, if there are maintenance needs or other issues that affect your quality of living that your landlord isn’t addressing, you can call an inspector to visit your location. Whether or not the inspector assigned to your case discovers a code violation, your landlord cannot retaliate against you for contacting an inspector. If retaliation occurs in any form, the renter may be eligible to take the landlord to court.
Renter’s Property Tax Refund
A few states throughout the country including Minnesota offer refunds to renters that meet specific qualifications based on their income, whether or not they appear as a dependent on another individual’s tax return, and whether they paid rent in a building that was taxed. If your state offers a renter’s property tax refund, your landlord must give you a Certificate of Rent Paid by January 31st of each year. Upon receiving this document, the renter must complete a form and file it to receive their return the following summer or fall.
Familiarize Yourself With Your State Renter’s Rights
The guidelines mentioned above are similar across the country. However, each state differs in renter’s rights to some extent as each is developed based on state and local laws. It’s recommended to review renter’s rights in your state, so you can be sure your landlord is treating you correctly. If you’re in a situation where you’re unsure of what to do or feel your landlord isn’t meeting your basic living needs, contact an experienced real estate lawyer today.Read More
Real estate disputes can present themselves when we least expect it and come about for varying reasons. Whether you are attempting to navigate a boundary dispute or have discovered a lien against a property that shouldn’t be there, an experienced real estate attorney can help you manage the process effectively from start to finish.
What Is a Quiet Title Action?
Quiet title is an action lawsuit or legal proceeding meant to help clear title to real property and establish a person’s title to said property. Quiet title actions are usually between co-borrowers, co-owners, or family members who have disputed each other’s contributions and interests. Lenders and trustees appearing on a borrower’s deed of trust that either no longer have any interest or no longer exist can also be challenged. The overall purpose is to “quiet” any claims or challenges to that title, especially if there are multiple claims, disputed interest, or title defects.
A quiet title action can be used when possession needs to be recovered of a property that has been wrongfully occupied by another individual. A plaintiff, buyer, or new homeowner can choose to file an action to include any present or past owner of the property who may have a claim to it. Once a determination is made in favor of the filing individual, no challenge to their ownership can be made in the future.
There are many different types of real estate disputes, but one of the most common is a boundary dispute. This can occur in numerous situations. However, a great example is if a neighbor builds a fence on the wrong side of the property line or if a tree was planted on a neighbor’s property in the past and the owner of the property wishes to have the tree removed. Additionally, homes, garages, sheds, and other common structures that have been built on other property by mistake can all cause issues. There are several ways in which a boundary dispute can be put to rest, such as the party using the property choosing to purchase it from the owner or merely remedying the issue. A “prescriptive easement” can also be pursued, which means one person owns the land while another lawfully uses it – the party using the property gains ownership of it.
The term defective title is utilized when an asset or property has a mortgage, judgment, or lien against it, which means another party can lay claim to the asset or property. In the instance of a defective title, the property owner is prevented from legally transferring the title to another party or refinancing the property. An experienced real estate attorney is recommended if you need a lien removed or feel a lien was wrongfully placed on your property.
Why Are Quiet Title Actions Filed?
Processes and outcomes for your unique situation can vary depending on the circumstances. Getting a clean title on a property will eliminate any troubles for selling it in the future, as well as obtaining any financing information. Quiet title actions can be filed for multiple reasons. Still, overall, it is to establish clear ownership of a property and quiet anyone who may try to challenge the property’s ownership.
- Establish free-and-clear ownership of the property and resolve any defects found in a property title search
- Resolve any outstanding liens on the property due to administrative errors
- Resolve any issues with a quitclaim deed
Who Can File?
Each state varies in who can file for a quiet title action, meaning it is vital you familiarize yourself with your residing state’s guidelines. Some states only allow the lender who holds the mortgage to file while others require the current property owner to file. According to MN Stat § 559.01, any person in possession of real property personally or through the person’s tenant, or any other person having or claiming title to vacant or unoccupied real property, may bring an action against another who claims an estate or interest therein, or a lien thereon, adverse to the person bringing the action, for the purpose of determining such adverse claim and the rights of the parties respectively. There are a variety of parties that can file a quiet title action:
- Property owners (if not the plaintiff)
- Heirs of the deceased stray interest holder
- Any other unknown parties claiming an interest
- Other persons with interest in the property (holders of mortgages, judgments, easements, liens) in the event the court order must be binding on them
The Filing Process
Depending on the state you reside in, a quiet action title can take an average of 2 to 4 months to complete, but the process can take longer or shorter considering the factors surrounding the dispute, such as court rulings. The steps for pursuing a quiet action title vary by state, but a few applicable steps remain the same across the board.
- A copy of your deed must be obtained as this will show if there are any liens against the property in question. If a copy of your deed is not saved in your files, it is recommended to contact your county assessor’s office to get a copy.
- The civil court must be petitioned for a quiet title. The petition you submit must include a legal description of the property, including the address and parcel number, the adverse claims against the plaintiff’s title, and a request for granting the quiet title. Many courts provide a specific cover sheet to make the petition process simple, but you can draft your petition if not. A pleading should include when the property was purchased, the defendants, and other necessary information to prove why the defendant’s claimed interest is not legitimate.
Seek Guidance From a Skilled Real Estate Attorney Today
Conflicts in property ownership commonly lead to litigation, and the process is often very technical. You must seek guidance from an experienced real estate attorney, so you do not risk losing an interest in the land in question. Reviewing past client testimonials is an excellent way to determine the best real estate attorney for your case. The individual you choose for your case must have familiarity with quiet title actions, so you can have the peace of mind you have been hoping for and get the outcome you deserve.Read More