Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court affirming the Cape Elizabeth Code Enforcement Officer’s (CEO) issuance of a building permit, holding that the CEO’s decision granting the permit lacked sufficient factual findings to permit meaningful review. The owner of property abutting the property at issue appealed the CEO’s grant of the building permit to the Town Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). The ZBA affirmed the CEO’s decision. The superior court affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the superior court’s judgment and remanded the matter, holding that the COE’s grant of the building permit was the operative decision and that decision lacked sufficient factual findings to permit meaningful appellate review. View "Appletree Cottage, LLC v. Town of Cape Elizabeth" on Justia Law

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Rowland Whittet appealed from a superior court judgment granting a permanent injunction and authorizing a special master to proceed with the sale of a parcel of real estate. In this appeal, Daniel Whittet filed a motion for sanctions. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment and imposed a sanction of attorney fees and treble costs, holding (1) Rowland failed to provide transcripts of relevant proceedings to allow for adequate appellate review and made no argument as to why the court erred; and (2) Rowland asserted meritless claims and arguments that have been rejected and effectively delayed enforcement of a previous judgment and wasted time and resources. View "Whittet v. Whittet" on Justia Law

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RIHC, a Maine nonprofit entity, owns Roque Island, 1,242 acres of land, with five houses and numerous outbuildings. Roque Island is a homestead that has been owned by the same family since the early 1800s. In 2010, Jonesport hired a certified private assessor for revaluation of all town properties. The assessor used state-approved assessment software. Its calculations include the character of the neighborhood so that values for island properties are calculated at a lower rate because they are not benefitted by certain services that mainland properties receive. Building values on islands are subject to an “economic obsolescence factor” of 200%, resulting in a greater assessed value than for a comparable mainland structures because of the additional cost of building on an island. Due to an oversight, the economic obsolescence factor originating with the 2010 revaluation was not fully applied to the Island structures until the 2014 tax year, when their total valuation increased by 52% from the previous year. RIHC sought an abatement of $1,305,150 from the 2014 building valuation assessment of $2,609,846, which would result in a property tax reduction of $20,000. That application was constructively denied. The Board of Appeals also denied RIHC’s application, concluding that RIHC’s buildings were being taxed consistently with buildings on islands in other towns. The lower court and the Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed; the record does not compel the conclusion that the rate differentiation is unjustly discriminatory. View "Roque Island Gardner Homestead Corp. v. Town of Jonesport" on Justia Law

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Hall filed a foreclosure claim against Camden Hills on two sets of notes and mortgages on Camden residential property. By a May 2014 judgment, the Knox County Superior Court denied Hall’s claim, concluding that Hall had not given Camden Hills sufficient notice of right to cure, 14 M.R.S. 6111. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed. In 2014, Hall filed a second foreclosure complaint in the District Court (Rockland). Camden Hills filed an answer denying the substantive allegations of default and asserting res judicata. Hall sought summary judgment. Camden Hills did not file a timely opposition or objection. Camden’s subsequent motion to dismiss alleged that the first foreclosure action was decided by a final judgment involving the same parties and the same cause of action. The court denied Camden Hills’s motion to dismiss and granted Hall summary judgment. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed Camden Hills’s appeal without reaching the merits because Camden Hills failed to comply with M.R. App. P. 8, addressing organization and the order in which documents are to appear in the appendix to the briefs. View "Hall v. Camden Hills Farm by the Sea, LLC" on Justia Law

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Linda Shelley executed a note in favor of First Magnus Financial Corporation. On the same day, Linda and John Shelley executed a mortgage on certain property as security for the loan. The note was endorsed in blank and was eventually held by MTGLQ Investors, L.P. John and Linda later deed the property to Shelley Alley. After Linda died, the note went into default. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. filed a foreclosure complaint, naming John Shelley as the defendant and Alley as a party in interest. The trial court entered a judgment of foreclosure in favor of MTGLQ. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the debtor - presumably, the Estate of Linda Shelley - was a necessary party to this foreclosure action. Because the debtor was not named as a party in this matter, and court vacated the judgment of foreclosure and remanded with instructions to dismiss the matter without prejudice. View "MTGLQ Investors, L.P. v. Alley" on Justia Law

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The superior court did not err in finding that Peter Beckerman had a deeded right-of-way over property owned by Ricky and Monica Conant and that the right-of-way was located over the Conants’ paved driveway. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court, holding (1) the trial court did not err in determining that the language of the 1978 deed was ambiguous, with the ambiguity resolvable by concluding that the deed conferred a right-of-way across the Conants’ property; and (2) the trial court did not err when it determined that the deeded right-of-way was over the existing paved driveway on the Conant lot. View "Beckerman v. Conant" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding Brian Beaulieu Jr. liable to Greg and Victoria Goodwill for having made fraudulent and negligent misrepresentations about certain amenities in a house that he sold to them and awarding damages. On appeal, Beaulieu asserted that, pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 163, he was entitled to a setoff against the amount of damages he was ordered to pay based on the Goodwills’ settlement with the real estate agency that listed his house. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding that the district court did not err by declining to reduce the damage award by the amount of the settlement between the Goodwills and the real estate agency that listed Beaulieu’s house because Beaulieu was not entitled to the setoff as a matter of law. View "Goodwill v. Beaulieu" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court declaring the ownership of and easement rights to certain property on Plaintiff’s complaint against Defendants. Plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment that he owned title to certain lakefront property and that any easement rights Defendants once may have had to that property had been extinguished. The superior court concluded that, except for a limited area where a structure had been built, Defendants’ express easement to the property had not been extinguished where Plaintiff failed to prove Defendants’ abandonment of the easement and where Plaintiff failed to establish that he possessed the easement “under a claim of right.” The Supreme Judicial Court agreed with the lower court, holding that Defendants’ express easement to the property had not been extinguished either by abandonment or by adverse possession. View "Dupuis v. Ellingwood" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a judgment entered in the district court ordering Plaintiff to pay Defendant’s legal fees and costs after dismissal of Plaintiff’s foreclosure action against Defendant with prejudice. The court held (1) the district court did not err when it concluded that it had the authority to award Defendant attorney fees and costs pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 6101, and Plaintiff did not preserve for appeal its argument that it was not “the mortgagee” according to section 6101 and therefore that the statute could not apply; and (2) the court did not abuse its discretion in setting the amount of fees owed and by including in the attorney fees award fees Defendant incurred pursuing an appeal. View "Homeward Residential, Inc. v. Gregor" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s fraudulent transfer complaint as having been filed outside the applicable statute of limitations, holding that the court should have treated the motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff brought a complaint against Defendants alleging violations of the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the applicable six-year statute of limitations ran one day before the date that Plaintiff’s complaint was filed. The district court granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Judicial Court held that Plaintiff’s submission of extrinsic evidence converted the motion to dismiss to a motion for summary judgment, and accordingly, the court erred in failing to proceed with the summary judgment process. View "Acadia Resources, Inc. v. VMS, LLC" on Justia Law