Articles Tagged with real estate law

Underwood-Blog-Images-1-2-300x300A motion to determine title is a motion to the court requesting that the court establish title to a piece of real property. Typically, a motion to determine title shows up in the court as a quiet title action. A quiet title action is brought when a litigant seeks to establish that they have an ownership interest in the subject property and refute any adverse claims against the litigant. It follows that to prevail on a motion to determine title; one must show that they hold some ownership interest in the subject property. 

The law surrounding a motion to determine title is codified in Code of Civil Procedure section 760.030. Under section 760.030, when establishing or quieting title is in issue in an action or proceeding, the court may, upon motion of any party, require that the issue be resolved pursuant to the provisions of the code of civil procedure relating to quiet title actions. (CCP § 760.030.) At Underwood Law Firm, our attorneys are more than familiar with partition actions and the step-by-step process of pursuing a partition. 

What is a Quiet Title Action

Underwood-Blog-Images-3-1-300x300Yes, but only in specific circumstances. When thinking of lawsuits, most people associate them with individuals. John may sue Mary for battery, for example. But this isn’t always the case. A large part of the law is devoted to virtual representation because some people, like minors, simply cannot file suit. 

This is where guardians and conservators come into play. These are officers that can be appointed or approved by the court and whose sole responsibility is the management of a person or thing on their behalf. Commonly, we associate conservators with property and guardians with people, but the differences are, in actuality, quite minute. 

Partitions are lawsuits that seek to divide up the shared equity in a property. But what happens when one of the owners is a minor or so elderly that they cannot manage the property on their own? At Underwood Law Firm, we have the answers. Our attorneys are more than familiar with partitions and the complexities such lawsuits can entail, particularly when conservatorships or trusts are involved. With our attorneys at your side, you can be sure that we will best assist you in achieving your litigation objectives. 

Underwood-Blog-Images-2-300x300When there are two or more owners of a piece of real property who are unable to come to an agreement on how to divide the property, any co-owner of the subject property may petition the court to partition the property. This is known as a partition action. Generally, the decision of a court to partition the property is merely the first step in the partition process. Although a partition action may sound quite simple, it is a complex process that requires extensive accounting and patience.   

What is a Partition Action?

A partition action is an action brought by a co-owner of a piece of real property against another co-owner, seeking to divide the property according to the respective interests of the co-owners. In order to establish a right to a partition, a party must show that they have some ownership interest in the subject property. Under Code of Civil Procedure section 872.210, any owner of an estate of inheritance, an estate for life, or an estate for years in real property where such property or estate is owned by several persons concurrently or in successive estates may bring a partition action. (CCP § 872.210.) Therefore, a co-tenant has an absolute right to partition. (Formosa Corp. v. Rogers (1951), 108 Cal.App.2d 397.) At Underwood Law Firm, our attorneys are more than familiar with partition actions and the step-by-step process of pursuing a partition. 

Underwood-Blog-Images-1-1-300x300In California, property subject to a trust can be partitioned, though with some additional wrinkles to the regular partition process. Because trusts can often involve successive estates with future and present property interests, litigants should take care to understand the law regarding trusts before beginning such an action. 

At Underwood Law Firm, our attorneys are more than familiar with partitions and the complexities such lawsuits can entail, particularly when trusts are involved. With our attorneys at your side, you can be sure that we will best assist you in achieving your litigation objectives. 

What is trust property? 

Underwood-Blog-Images-3-300x300Co-ownership of property brings with it many rights and duties under the law. These rights and duties can vary depending on whether co-owners hold property as tenants in common or joint tenants; these are the two most popular forms of joint ownership in the state. Regardless of the ownership scheme, however, both forms of cotenancy share the same indisputable right: the right of possession. (Bakanauskas v. Urdan (1988) 206 Cal.App.3d 621, 628-630.) 

The right to possession is straightforward. Whether a co-owner holds a 1% or 99% ownership interest, they are nonetheless entitled to occupy the whole of the property if they so choose. (Dabney v. Dabney (2002) 104 Cal.App.4th 379, 382.) Of course, the “right” often does not meet the practicalities of the situation. To that end, co-owners have developed “TIC” agreements, wherein they agree to limit their right to occupy the jointly owned premises. 

TIC agreements, too, seem straightforward enough, but they became the subject of controversy when used with rental properties. Due to California’s skyrocketing housing costs, some co-owners of rental units enacted TICs amongst themselves so that each could have the exclusive right to occupancy (ERO) in particular dwelling units within the rental property. 

Underwood-Blog-Images-300x300Slander of title is quite the unique cause of action. As the name implies, it involves defamatory or slanderous activity but not against any person or personal interest. Instead, a slander of title involves activity that calls the state of your title into doubt (by, for example, filing an unwarranted lis pendens) that diminishes the value of your property. 

In these situations, parties have the ability to sue for slander of title. The suit is usually accompanied by an action to clear a cloud on the title or to quiet the title, but the gist of it is quite simple: compensation for the injurious activity to the state of one’s title. 

What’s Required for a Slander of Title Claim? 

Underwood-Blog-Images-1-300x300In most cases, no. Instead, the statute of limitations most frequently bars a partition action when a party’s rights to the property have lapsed due to an ouster. 

What is a Partition Action?

A partition action is an action brought by a co-owner of a piece of real property against another co-owner, seeking to divide the property according to the respective interests of the co-owners. Typically, a property is partitioned in one of two ways. A partition by sale, where the subject property is sold, and the proceeds of the sale are split according to the respective interests of the titleholders. A physical partition physically divides the subject property into separate parcels in accordance with the respective interests. 

Underwood-Blog-Images-5-300x300Ejectment is an action brought by a party seeking to recover a possessory interest or claim of title in a piece of real property. Typically, an ejectment action arises when a titleholder to a piece of property has been wrongfully excluded or withheld from the property. Therefore, ejectment applies only to those cases where an individual actually has possessory title to the subject property.

Ejectment is a possessory action used to recover possession of land or a piece of real property to a plaintiff in possession who has been wrongfully ousted from the property by the defendant. (Fuller v. Fuller (1917) 176 Cal. 637, 638, 169 P. 369].) In simpler terms, ejectment allows a party to retake possession of real property that the party was wrongfully removed from.

A claim of ejectment is a common issue in disputes over the real property where the parties are seeking to establish who holds title to or an interest in the subject property. Specifically, under Code of Civil Procedure section 3375, an individual who is entitled to specific real property may recover by a judgment for its possession or an order requiring a defendant to deliver possession of the property. (CCP § 3375.) At Underwood Law Firm, our attorneys are more than familiar with ejectment actions and the requirements needed to prevail on an ejectment claim. 

Underwood-Blog-Images-1-2-300x300A partition by appraisal is an alternative method of partition that occurs when the parties to a partition action agree to have the subject property partitioned by appraisal. With the Partition of Real Property Act taking effect in 2023, almost every partition action moving forward will involve a Partition by Appraisal. As such, the rules for a partition by appraisal will be important to know for everyone involved in such an action.

Once a partition by appraisal commences, the parties must then go through the appraisal process with an independent appraiser. An independent appraiser appraises the subject property, and the judgment of the appraiser determines the value that should be paid to buy out the interest of the selling co-owner. At the Underwood Law Firm, our attorneys are more than familiar with partition actions and the requirements needed to pursue a partition by appraisal. 

What is a Partition Action?

Underwood-Blog-Images-4-300x300“Joint tenancy” is a phrase that most people associate with the co-ownership of a property. And indeed, this is correct. Joint tenancy is a form of co-ownership in California, second only to tenancies-in-common in terms of popularity. But just because the words “joint tenancy” are used in a deed or other property-related document does not mean one actually exists. 

For a joint tenancy to be “true” means its effects fully apply. At a minimum, ownership percentages between the owners need to be equal, and the right of survivorship has to be present between the parties. What’s more, is that if any of the statutory or legal requirements associated with its creation are missing, then the joint tenancy does not exist, and it cannot be “true.” 

At Underwood Law Firm, our attorneys are well-versed in co-tenancy and the various forms it can take, including joint tenancy. The rights and duties that follow each of these ownership schemes are unique, making them a key issue in real estate litigation. 

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