Property Pandemonium: The Ultimate A To Z Guide to Real Estate Disputes

Jun 27, 2024 | Real Estate Law

When it comes to individuals and real estate, there is no shortage of conflicts that can arise between neighbors, homeowners, tenants, landlords, homeowner associations, and developers, to name a few. We have compiled a comprehensive list of the most common property disputes and provided potential resolutions for many of them. Due to the vast number of possible disputes, we have organized our list in alphabetical order for ease of reference.

Hopefully you find this list of 26 property disputes both informative and interesting! If you are dealing with a real estate dispute mentioned on this list, don’t hesitate to contact our real estate dispute attorneys to find out more about your options!

26 Real Estate Conflicts You May Encounter At Some Point in Your Life 

Adverse possession claims: disputes arise when a person claims adverse possession of a property based on open, continuous and hostile possession without the permission of the property owner. The property owner might not know that adverse possession is being claimed until it is brought to their attention. If the property owner wants to dispute the adverse possession claim, the adverse possessor can submit a petition to compel the trespasser to vacate the property.  The owner may not obey the court order. Then, the adverse possessor can initiate a process of filing a lawsuit to enforce the order.

Boundary disputes: disputes with neighbors about the location or ownership of the boundary between properties. When one property owner claims that the fence or wall between them and their neighbor is located on their neighbor’s property, those neighbors can ask for the property to be partitioned or resolved in a different way. Sometimes, a survey is needed to find the true location of the boundary between properties.

Condemnation proceedings:  The government could face a legal battle when it uses its inherent power of eminent domain (the right to take private property for public use) to take property. A taking of private property may lead to a dispute over compensation. In the context of condemnation proceedings, the owner of the property claims compensation for the value of the property.

Divorce-related property disputes: Often, the determination of how to partition and divide jointly held property—whether it’s the primary residence, a vacation home or an investment property—involves a judge or jury as part of the divorce settlement.

Easement disputes: disputes over rights to real property-shared access easements addressing access of a neighbor to a common driveway or a shared line associated with utilities, for example. Easement disputes result from parties disagreeing on the use of another’s real property. The parties typically settle the dispute over the right to use a shared real property feature on terms such as a modification to an existing easement or an agreement to share an established feature.

Family Co-Ownership Dispute: Where family members own the property together but cannot agree on how it’s managed, maintained, or used. This might be between siblings, parents and children, or extended family members who inherited the property together or co-purchased it. There may be disputes about contributing an equal share of the mortgage or property maintenance costs, about how they should make decisions regarding the property, about inheritance rights, or about how much time any of them can spend using it. A partition action that would either divide the property or force the sale of the property may be the only way to resolve the dispute.

Granting access to shared amenities: Casual disagreements might occur over the rules on how to use a shared pool or clubhouse, the restrictive covenants, or who is allowed to use them. Homeowners might decide to amend the covenant by limiting the number of times one can use the amenity per year or the number of people who can use it at any one time.

Homeowners’ association disputes: disagreements between members of a homeowners’ association (HOA) over rules, dues, maintenance obligations or other matters, disputes between owners and the association, between owners and other residents, and between owners and third parties (such as contractors) can all represent potential liabilities.

Inadequate disclosure of property defects: legal disputes that arise between a buyer and seller after the sale if one fails to knowingly disclose important defects or information about the property. If the buyer reasonably relies upon a seller’s statements about the property to say nothing about the issue in question and later learns the seller withheld the information, a cause of action may lie against the seller on the theory of express or implied fraud.

Joint ownership disputes: disputes between co-owners of property in relation to decisions they have to make about the use, maintenance or sale of the property. This differs from disputes between co-owners who share the same premises together (or between co-owners who share a premises in common and not as joint tenants). These disputes may involve questions including whether a co-owner has a right of entry to or use of the property, what a co-owner’s share of the value of the property might be, or whether a co-owner has a right to sell or transfer their interests in the property.

Key disputes: These kinds of real-estate disputes might arise, for example, when there is a disagreement about access to a space, or who can use a key to the property. Key disputes can arise between a landlord and a renter, between an owner and a property manager, or between co-owners of a shared property. Resolving key disputes might require settling questions about who owns the key, how the management of the key works, and how the space can be accessed.

Liens: Difficult issues often come up when a creditor asserts a legal claim on a house, such as when a homeowner fails to pay for contractor work or back taxes. Liens can be put on properties over delinquent property taxes, unpaid homeowners’ association dues, and unpaid contractor work. These disputes can be highly complex and require legal analysis, negotiations and litigation.

Mortgage disputes: disputes involving lenders and borrowers about the conditions, payments, or foreclosure actions related to a mortgage contract, issues with the title to the property, the modification of a loan, or the breach of contract by one or both parties, usually regarding whether the borrower has defaulted on the loan, whether the lender has the right to foreclose, or whether the borrower has the right to challenge the foreclosure action.

Nuisance claims: are cases initiated by property owners who seek compensation for injuries or interference stemming from the actions or conditions on neighboring properties. The typical neighbor action claims cover nuisance, interference with comfortable use and enjoyment of the property, and trespass. Common types of neighbor disputes include noisy neighbors, property line disputes, parking conflicts, unkempt neighboring properties, and problems caused by pets, such as dogs.

Ownership disputes: disagreements or confusion over who legally owns what property, including contested inheritances, failed or insufficient land title transfers or successions, questions of whether a conveyance or transfer qua possession occurred properly, and questions of whether a grantor or current owner owns or can in fact sell or transfer a parcel or property.

Partition Action disputes: When there are disputes as to co-ownership of real property by two or more persons, one or more of them must usually initiate a proceeding known as a partition action to ascertain the rights and interests of the co-owners. This is a legal action initiated by one co-owner against the other co-owner(s) in order to request the division or separation of the property into individual parcels for the mutual benefit of all co-owners. The purpose of this action is to either sell the property and distribute the proceeds among the owners, or to find another suitable way to involuntarily dispose of the property.

Quitclaim deed disputes: disputes involving questions concerning validity or extent of rights acquired by a quitclaim deed. A quitclaim deed might be used in a transfer from an individual to an individual or a transfer from another entity to an individual. Questions concerning the validity of the quitclaim deed may involve situations where one party is not certain that they have full or complete rights to a property, or where one party thinks that another has inappropriately or improperly transferred one’s property rights.

Rent or lease disputes: conflicts between landlords and tenants, typically revolving around issues like unpaid rent, lease violations, or maintenance responsibilities. These disputes may involve issues such as whether a landlord or tenant has the right to terminate a lease or whether a tenant is allowed to sublease the property to another person. Landlords could face legal action if they fail to properly maintain their properties, or if they do not properly respond to requests from tenants for repairs.

Seller’s remorse: Post-contract litigation (seller’s remorse) occurs when the seller wishes to renege on a signed contract to sell the property, especially after a contract signing has taken place. This kind of action is presumed to be a breach of the contract, a clear attempt (to put it simply) to rescind the contract. Seller’s remorse typically occurs when the seller wishes to renege on the price he or she had agreed to, either because that price is too low for comfort, or because he or she believes that the property might be better able to command a much higher price.

Trespassing disputes: disputes with others regarding actions taken on one’s property, particularly those that damage the property or otherwise interfere with its use. In the appropriate circumstances, a trespasser can escape liability by demonstrating that the owner was negligent. Invading someone else’s property without permission, especially by occupying a property, is a kind of trespass.

Unauthorized construction disputes: if a property owner is allowed to engage in improvements or add extra construction to their property without a permit or the approval of a neighborhood civic board, disputes can arise, such as issues related to zoning, building codes, or community civil code. Disputes over unauthorized construction can most likely be settled by obtaining retroactive permits or paying fines, or even by the demolition and removal of the unauthorized construction.

Vacant property disputes: disputes that occur when a property is left vacant for an extended period, leading to issues such as maintenance neglect, security concerns, neighborhood complaints, or disputes over ownership or responsibility. Resolving vacant property disputes may involve addressing maintenance issues, finding new tenants or owners, or complying with local regulations regarding vacant properties.

Warranty Issues: Sometimes concern over warranties can lead to a dispute over the validity, interpretation or fulfilment of the warranties given at the time of closing the sale of the home. Whether those warranties covered defects in the roof, cracked pipes, a wobbly foundation or the like, disputes can arise over whether an insurance policy or an outside expert’s evaluation is needed to address issues of decay or extent of damage. Such disputes can be settled by means of negotiations, examinations under oath or forensic surveying, or even through litigation.

Xenophobic behavior disputes: These real estate disputes relate to exclusionary behavior toward someone or some category of person on the basis of their nationality, ethnicity or cultural heritage. Xenophobic behavior disputes, for example, may be found in communities that are ethnically and culturally diverse, yet harbor tensions arising from immigration, housing segregation, or perceptions of newcomers. Such disputes could be resolved through education, community building and the institutionalization of inclusive real estate practices.

Yield disputes: conflicts over the anticipated yield or return on investment from a real estate property or project for investors, tenants, property owners or partners. Often, yield disputes relate to different expectations, readings of financial data, or changes in market conditions that affect the projected return. Yield disputes may involve recalculation of financial projections, renegotiation of terms, mediation or arbitration to achieve a settlement.

Zoning ordinance conflicts: Disagreements occur when the use of a property either conflicts with the specific requirements set forth in a zoning ordinance, or is so different from the specified regulations in an ordinance, that a legal proceeding is required. Disagreements with zoning ordinances could be resolved with a zoning change, through litigation, or through mediation.

Need Help With A Real Estate Dispute?

If you are fighting a property dispute mentioned above and need legal help, our real estate attorneys at the Law Offices of Patel & Cardenas would be happy to discuss your case and answer any questions you have. Call us today for a free consultation and learn how we can help.

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