Property law articles can include real estate, zoning issues, commercial real estate, landlord and tenant, as well as slip and fall premises liability.

Why Do Jury Verdicts Usually Go Against NTSB Findings?

USA Today conducted an investigation linking crashes to defects in small aircraft. Over five decades, nearly 45,000 people have been killed in private plane and helicopter crashes. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says that 86 percent of private crashes are caused by pilot error. However, USA Today says its investigation reveals many instances in […]

Can you legally park or store trucks or heavy equipment in a residential area?

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Residential neighborhoods often are protected by zoning ordinances and restrictive covenants. Zoning ordinances are created by municipal governments by cities, townships and boroughs. They regulate use of land, declaring certain areas to be residential, others commercial and others industrial. Special enterprise, agricultural, educational or medical zones may exist in some municipalities. Restrictive covenants are different. […]

Can you be held liable for a motor vehicle loan that you co-signed as a buyer, even if you are not the spouse or parent of the actual owner?

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Before January 1, 1997, only mothers and fathers or husbands and wives who co-signed on an installment loan for a motor vehicle were primarily liable along with the actual owner of the vehicle. In a recent decision, the Illinois Supreme Court held that persons (other than parents or spouses) who co-signed as buyers on a […]

Can real estate or business brokers be legally denied fees?

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Illinois law distinguishes between real estate brokers and business brokers and has different requirements for each. A real estate broker must be licensed by the state, while a business broker must register with the Illinois Secretary of State. A typical business, however, may include both business assets and real estate, potentially triggering both statutory requirements. […]

Can I get a refund of a real estate deposit?

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The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently required the sellers to refund most of the potential buyers’ deposit in an aborted real estate transaction, even though the buyers breached the contract of sale and the contract itself provided for forfeiture of the down payment. What happened? Pedro and Magdalia Matos entered into a written contract to sell […]

Can higher out-of-state waste disposal fees be justified?

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Claiming that it only wanted shippers of out-of-state waste into the state to pay their fair share of disposal costs, Oregon imposed a surcharge on disposal of out-of-state waste. The fee was about three times as large as that for in-state waste. The Court found the plan to be a prohibited form of protectionism. The […]

Can abandoned railroad track easements be transferred to a city for public use?

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In the 1890s, a railroad built track on easements it acquired over property in Vermont. The property owners kept title to the underlying land. In 1975, the railroad abandoned the easements. Using federal legislation commonly known as the Rails-To-Trails Act, in 1985 the State of Vermont and a city petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission to […]

Can a person with a life estate move out and rent the property?

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Under the prevailing law in most states, a life estate has the right to do anything with his or her property. It is not mandatory to live there and use it as his/ her home, but the person can obviously rent it out. The holder of the life estate is responsible for maintaining the property, […]

Can a Pennsylvania township charge a license fee for billboards?

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When townships issue licenses for building, development, and sign-posting activities, they are permitted by Pennsylvania law to charge license fees. Such license fees are considered to be compensation to the township for costs expended in the regulation of the activity in question. Taxes, by contrast, produce much higher revenue than what is expended by the […]

Can a city government limit an individual’s liberty of expression in their own home?

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Tired of visual clutter in its neighborhoods, the City of Ladue, Missouri, banned all signs on residential property except for signs that warned of hazards, identified residences, or advertised that the property was for sale. Margaret, who was determined to express her opposition to the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War, placed a small sign […]

Are realtors who make representations about property liable if their facts are incorrect?

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A California court decision provides a cautionary tale for realtors who make representations about property without doing enough to confirm that they have their facts correct. In that case, a realtor was held liable to the purchasers for $175,000 because his description of the size of a lot was off by .003 of an acre. […]

Are gas station canopies taxed as real estate?

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Pennsylvania municipalities and school districts impose local property taxes on real estate owners. The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, in an appeal by a gas station operator, has held that lighted canopies can be taxed as real estate. The property at issue consisted of a one-story building, parking area, and lighted canopy over gas pumps. Canopies […]

Am I required to disclose my knowledge of lead-based paint in the dwelling that I am selling?

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As the seller or lessor of a residential dwelling, you are required to disclose any lead-based paint defects known to you. Under the recent amendments of the Federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, sellers, lessors, and their agents must also disclose all documentation concerning the presence of lead paint to buyers and lessees so […]

A Win for Contractors in the Area of Insurance Coverage

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A recent California Court of Appeal case strengthened contractors’ rights to insurance coverage and specifically the right to have the insurance company pay the attorneys fees and court costs of a lawsuit. The decision is not at all surprising. However, it is an important decision that contractors may use to obtain insurance coverage for defense […]