Articles Posted in Real Estate Law

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The Moorland Farm Condominium consisted of thirty-three units in ten buildings. When the Moorland Farm Condominium Association became aware that certain outdoor decks in the condominium development were in need of repair, it issued a series of special assessments to pay for the repairs. Plaintiffs, owners of the condominium units that were not benefiting from the improvements, sued the association, contending that the assessments were illegal because the decks were not common areas, but rather, were part of individual units. The trial justice held that the assessments were illegal. The association appealed, arguing that the trial justice erred by advancing to trial in the absence of all indispensable parties, in particular, the unit owners who received the benefit of the association’s assessment for deck repairs but who would bear the financial burden of the reallocated costs as set forth in the judgment. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that the failure to join indispensable parties in this case was fatal and that the judgment was null and void.View "Burns v. Moorland Farm Condo. Ass’n" on Justia Law

Posted in: Real Estate Law

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Plaintiffs entered into a loan agreement with Potomac Realty Capital LLC (PRC) to rehabilitate and renovate certain property. As security for the loan, NV One granted a mortgage on the property. Plaintiffs later filed a complaint against PRC, asserting violations of the Rhode Island usury law, among other claims. The trial justice granted summary judgment to Plaintiffs with respect to the usury claim, entered an order declaring the loan usurious and void, and voided the mortgage. At issue on appeal was whether a usury savings clause in the loan document validated the otherwise usurious contract. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs were entitled to judgment as a matter of law on their usury claim because (1) the loan was a usury; and (2) the usury savings clause was unenforceable on public policy grounds.View "NV One, LLC v. Potomac Realty Capital, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and Defendants were owners of property with a common boundary. Plaintiff and Defendants disputed the location of the boundary line, and Plaintiff claimed Defendants encroached upon her property. When Defendants obtained a building permit to construct a building on their alleged property, Plaintiff filed suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The superior court granted injunctive relief to Plaintiff, permanently enjoined Defendants from trespassing on Plaintiff’s lot, ordered the removal of the portion of Defendants’ building that encroached on Plaintiff’s lot, and awarded damages to Plaintiff. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice did not err (1) in finding that the boundary line established by a survey initiated by Plaintiff constituted the boundary line between the two lots; and (2) in awarding damages to Plaintiff based on the diminution in the fair market value of her land as a result of the encroachment by Defendants. View "Banville v. Brennan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Real Estate Law

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Plaintiffs executed a mortgage identifying Domestic Bank as the lender and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. as a corporation “acting solely as nominee” for the lender and the lender’s assigns. Later, MERS purported to assign the mortgage to Aurora Loan Services, LLC (Aurora). Aurora “or the successful bidder” allegedly took a foreclosure deed at a subsequent foreclosure sale. Plaintiffs filed a complaint against MERS seeking a declaration that the assignment and foreclosure sale were void and that Plaintiffs owned a fee simple interest in the property. The superior court dismissed the complaint, concluding (1) Plaintiffs did not have standing to seek relief based on the assignment because they were neither an assignor nor an assignee of the assignment; and (2) even if Plaintiffs had standing, their allegations were insufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, holding (1) Plaintiffs had standing to prosecute their claim; and (2) Defendants’ Rule 12(b)(6) motion was improperly granted because Plaintiffs’ complaint stated a plausible claim upon which relief could be granted.View "Chhun v. Mortgage Elec. Registration Sys., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff executed a promissory note secured by a mortgage on his property. After Plaintiff defaulted on the loan, foreclosure proceedings commenced. Plaintiff subsequently filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. Then then-holder of the mortgage sought relief from the automatic stay imposed by bankruptcy law. Relief from the stay was given in two bankruptcy cases filed by Plaintiff, the second of which was initiated after a foreclosure sale had been completed. Plaintiff then filed an action seeking a declaration that the foreclosure deed was void and that he owned the property in fee simple absolute. The superior court granted summary judgment against Plaintiff based on the doctrine of res judicata. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff was precluded from raising issues regarding the foreclosure again in the superior court after the propriety of the foreclosure was examined by the bankruptcy court and the foreclosure sale was declared valid.View "Reynolds v. First NLC Fin. Servs., LLC" on Justia Law

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Petitioner applied to the Town of Scituate building official for a building permit to build a single-family home on an unimproved lot. The building official denied the permit, citing numerous deficiencies with Petitioner's plans, including a lack of street frontage. Petitioner appealed the denial and, alternatively, applied for a dimensional variance. The town zoning board denied the appeal and the request for a dimensional variance. The superior court affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, concluding that the zoning board abused its discretion in determining that a frontage requirement was required for Petitioner's property. Remanded.View "Iadevaia v. Town of Scituate Zoning Bd. of Review" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff executed a promissory note to Dollar Mortgage Corporation (DMC) secured by a mortgage on Plaintiff's real property. The mortgage was held by Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) as the mortgagee and nominee for DMC. Eventually, Deutsche Bank National Trust Company became the holder of Plaintiff's note as custodian for OneWest Bank. Later, MERS assigned Plaintiff's mortgage to the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA). AFter Plaintiff defaulted on his mortgage, FNMA purchased the property at a foreclosure sale. Plaintiff subsequently file this action seeking declaratory relief as to the validity of the foreclosure sale and the ownership of the property, an order quieting title to the property, and damages for negligent misrepresentation. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendants, finding, among other things, that Plaintiff did not have standing to challenge the validity of the assignment of the mortgage because he was a stranger to the assignment. The Supreme Court vacated in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the superior court, holding (1) Plaintiff had standing to challenge the validity of the assignment of the mortgage; and (2) the superior court did not err in the remainder of its judgment. View "Mruk v. Mortgage Elec. Registration Sys., Inc." on Justia Law