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Dallas Real Estate Law Blog

Real estate litigation is sometimes unavoidable

Most Dallas-area real estate owners and developers try to avoid litigation at all costs. Real estate litigation can be costly and there is always an element of risk. But, sometimes a real estate dispute that puts an entire investment or development at risk cannot be resolved through negotiation. And, sometimes litigation is thrust upon a party, when the other party strikes first and files suit.

There are countless types of real estate disputes that end up in litigation. Title to a parcel of land may be contested, for example. Co-owners of real estate may have a falling out. In the development world, disputes can and do arise at every stage of a project. Construction disputes, claims for breach of contract and financial disputes often end up in court. When a development gets into financial difficulties, interested parties often resort to litigation to salvage their investment or cut their losses. Lenders may begin foreclosure proceedings.

What constitutes landlord retaliation under the Dallas City Code?

Owning and managing residential rental property in Dallas can be challenging. Disputes with tenants can be costly and disruptive, especially if the dispute leads to landlord-tenant litigation. When dealing with tenant disputes, property owners and managers need to be careful not to inadvertently run afoul of the law. One of the laws that can trip up an unsuspecting landlord is the Dallas City Code prohibition on tenant retaliation.

Under the City Code, a landlord is guilty of retaliation if the person increases a tenant's rent, reduces services to a tenant or tries to evict the tenant within six months after certain events. Those events include the tenant filing a complaint with the City alleging a violation of the city's minimum standards for residential buildings, the issuance of a citation or written notice of such a violation, the filing of a legal action against the landlord by the city attorney relating to any such violation on property the tenant occupies; and the completion of repairs, in compliance with a citation, notice or court order, on the property the tenant occupies.

Sale of Dallas retail site sets Uptown price record

A recent commercial real estate transaction in the Uptown area just north of downtown Dallas shows that investors view the area as a significant opportunity. The sale set a new record for price per square foot in the area. An unnamed investor, represented by an Illinois real estate company, paid over $375 a square foot for the site at 2501 North Field Street. The total price was just short of $15 million for the one-acre property. The site was most recently valued at less than $3 million for property tax purposes.

The site is home to a brand new CVS Pharmacy building. CVS has a 25-year lease on the building. Single-tenant properties are in high demand, especially in core markets like Dallas. Prior to this sale, the highest sale price per square foot in the Uptown area was a site on the northwest corner of Woodall Rogers Freeway and Pearl Street, which went for over $300 per square foot.

Remedies for breach of contract in Texas real estate dispute

Conducting business can be a tricky operation. Whether a real estate deal has been in the works for months, or even years, it can be a time consuming goal. The best feeling is when the person or business who has worked on those deals finally witnesses their plan coming to life by the signing of a contract. But, what if a real estate party backs out of that contract, leaving people with a financial loss?

Most likely the party would be in breach of contract, which is outlined per the agreement signed. If people are unsure if a party is in breach of contract, the best place to start is the contract itself, where a party may be able to answer their own question. Once it is determined that the party is in fact in breach of contract during the contract dispute, the question is how can people recover if their business has suffered financial losses associated with their breach of contract? If a business didn't hold up their end of the deal and people are in a purchase dispute, there are a few things an injured party can do.

Protecting your rights in Dallas common interest housing

Owning one's home is a popular aspiration in Texas. But, homeownership can take many forms. In recent decades many homeowners in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have chosen to live in condominiums, townhouses, retirement communities, gated communities and other common interest housing arrangements.

While the various forms of common interest ownership differ, these arrangements have several key factors in common. Homeowners own their individual units or buildings, but share ownership of common areas and facilities. The homeowners are generally required to sign an agreement that sets forth their rights and obligations in the community. And, there is usually a condominium board, homeowners association or similar governing body elected by the homeowners.

How is a joint tenancy created in Texas real estate?

Joint tenancy with right of survivorship is a common way for two or more people, especially married couples, to co-own real estate in Texas. In this form of ownership, when one party dies the surviving party becomes the sole owner of the property.

Joint tenancy with right of survivorship is distinct from tenancy in common, which is anther common form of co-ownership. Tenancy in common has no right of survivorship. When one party to a tenancy in common dies, the person's undivided share in the real property belongs to the person's estate and passes to the person's heirs through the person's will or trust. If there is no will or trust, it is distributed according to Texas' intestacy laws.

New Dallas rail line may affect downtown property values

Dallas Area Rapid Transit's proposed new rail line downtown is causing some concern in the local commercial real estate community. DART says the line is essential to improve service and ease congestion on the system. But the Real Estate Council, an industry group whose members comprise 95 percent of the region's commercial real estate businesses, wants to make sure the line does not adversely affect property values in the downtown area.

The industry group has proposed that the new rail line be built completely underground. The group says a surface line would cause disruption to downtown businesses, interfere with pedestrian traffic and cause property values to decline.

The importance of promptly recording deeds in Texas

In last week's post we discussed the use of quitclaim and warranty deeds to convey property in Texas. But, after the deed is signed and delivered to the buyer, there is another important step. The buyer should promptly record the deed -- file it in the public record -- at the office of the County Clerk in the county where the real estate is located.

In Texas, recording a deed is not required in order to make the transaction valid as between the seller and buyer. Under the Texas Recording Act, an unrecorded deed is binding on the parties to the deed and their heirs. But, it is important for the buyer to record the deed promptly in order to fully protect the person's interest in the property from claims by third parties.

What is the purpose of a quitclaim deed in Texas?

When one person transfers ownership of real estate to another, the document that consummates the transfer is a deed. There are a number of different types of deeds, each designed for particular transactions. Probably the two most common deeds in Texas are the warranty deed and the quitclaim deed.

A warranty deed transfers the land and also promises, or warrants, that the transferor has good title to the property. A quitclaim deed, on the other hand, contains no such promise. It merely transfers whatever right, title and interest the transferor has in the property -- which theoretically could be none at all.

Record for price of area office buildings could be set in sale

In Texas, commercial real estate can be big business, but those who are erecting a structure, selling units and purchasing them need to be fully immersed in the legal issues that will inevitably arise. When there is a large building for sale, with the attendant commercial matters, there will likely be a great number of suitors to purchase it and the profit can be enormous if the sale is handled correctly. With these matters, one of the key factors in having everything go according to plan is to have legal assistance from start to finish.

Recently, a 13-story office building in the Dallas area was targeted for purchase by a foreign investor, and its sale price could be a new high in its particular area. The property is being considered by an international purchaser and the amount that could be received for it is believed to have the potential for setting a record for office sales in the suburbs. The building was built in 2015 and is considered one of the best in the area. The foreign buyer might pay as much as $400 per square foot. That would be a new high; the previous highest amount paid was $375 per square foot.

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