Real Estate Law
The Dessaules Law Group, located in Central Phoenix, Arizona, has a diverse real estate litigation practice that includes representation of landlords and tenants, buyers and sellers, borrowers and lenders, and homeowners and homeowner associations. We believe our diverse practice gives our lawyers the ability to seek out the best solutions for our client’s real estate problems. We represent homeowners in both Arizona and California in disputes with their homeowner associations, planned communities, and condominium associations.
Collections and Foreclosures
If you are a lender whose borrower is in default, our lawyers can assist you in the collection and foreclosure process. Contact us today if you have questions about your rights as a lender in Arizona or would like to hire one of our attorneys to assist you with a foreclosure.
If you are a borrower who is unable to pay your mortgage and facing foreclosure, you should consult with or hire an attorney. There are significant legal and tax consequences in a foreclosure. The most common question we hear as Arizona real estate attorneys is whether the bank can take your house and then sue you to collect the deficiency (i.e., the difference between the amount of the mortgage and the amount obtained at the foreclosure sale). The answer to this question depends upon the particular facts and circumstances of your loan and your property. Arizona law sometimes permits the bank to sue for a deficiency judgment.
There are also significant tax consequences relating to foreclosure. A foreclosure generally creates income to the borrower in the amount of the forgiven debt. Although Congress passed the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, which generally excludes income realized as a result of a foreclosure on a principal residence, the Act may or may not apply to your foreclosure depending upon your particular circumstances. To determine your risk for a deficiency judgment and understand all of the legal consequences of foreclosure, call us to meet with an Arizona real estate attorney today.
We also represent individuals who are victims of predatory lending schemes and mortgage fraud. The real estate boom that we experienced in 2004 through 2006 had a less savory side that is only now coming to light: Certain individuals and companies preyed on less-sophisticated consumers, selling them loans that they never could afford, misrepresenting the terms and conditions of the loan, and/or even falsifying documents and records! Whether you are a lender looking to collect or foreclose on a deed of trust or a borrower with questions regarding the foreclosure process or who believes you are the victim of predatory lending or mortgage fraud, we highly recommend you consult with an attorney immediately.
Boundary and Title Disputes
Is your fence or block wall not squarely on the property line? Is your neighbor claiming to own some or all of your property? Is someone denying you the right to use an easement? Do you question the validity of a lien or deed of trust against your property? Are you having a dispute with a co-owner? These are just a few of the questions that can impact title and ownership.
Boundary disputes among neighbors are very common. Fences and block walls are not always erected along the actual property line. Under certain circumstances, you may be entitled to claim ownership of someone else’s property by virtue of adverse possession. Adverse possession requires the actual, visible, continuous, and exclusive use or occupation of another owner’s property for period of ten years. You must take action within this time period to prevent losing your property by adverse possession. Because the ten-year period may have started to run before you or your neighbor bought your homes, it is important that you seek legal advice immediately if you have questions or concerns about adverse possession.
Another common property dispute concerns easements. An easement is generally defined as a non-possessory right to use the property of another for a specific purpose. Easements often must be in writing to be enforceable, but there are many exceptions. An owner of property is usually prohibited from denying or interfering with use of the easement. Disputes commonly arise when a new owner is unaware of an easement or the easement was never recorded.
If you share ownership of your property with someone else, there are specific legal rules that govern your relationship. Generally speaking, a co-tenant is entitled to an undivided ownership interest in the property, meaning that each owner has the equal right to possess, occupy or use the property. So what happens when you decide you want to sever that relationship, for whatever reason, but your co-owner does not? The most common solution is known as a partition action. A partition action is a lawsuit that involving the court-ordered sale of the property and distribution of the proceeds.
Our lawyers also represent individuals who learn that someone else claims an ownership interest in their property. For example, an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend claims you agreed to share ownership of the home, or a stranger has a quitclaim deed to your home or claims that they are the new owners by virtue of a foreclosure that you did not know about. These are serious issues that you cannot afford to take lightly.
Boundary disputes, title problems and questionable claims of ownership can substantially diminish the value of your property or result in the loss of your home and lifetime investment. You should consult with an attorney immediately if you have any questions or concerns.
Buyer Seller Disputes
The real estate market in Arizona has seen dramatic changes over the last five years. It has gone from unprecedented growth to recession in just a couple of years. The rapid shift in the real estate market has presented some unique challenges to prospective buyers and sellers.
Our lawyers have considerable experience in all kinds of real estate disputes, such as:
A seller’s misrepresentation or omission of defects and/or other material facts relating to the condition of the property. Boundary disputes, adverse possession claims and quiet title actions. Real Estate Purchase Agreement disputes. Earnest money disputes. Broker commission disputes. Resolving complicated title issues. Post-closing disputes. Usually a residence is the most expensive and valuable asset that an individual will buy during his or her lifetime. While the above issues sometimes can be costly to resolve, they often will be more costly to do nothing or to wait too long.
Arizona recognizes that a party can obtain title to another’s real property by adverse possession. To acquire title by adverse possession, you must show:
Your possession is exclusive (no one else is occuping the land); Your possession is hostile (without the permission of the owner); You have continuously possessed the property the statutory time (usually 10 years though it could be less in some situations); and Your possession is open and actual (your possession would give rise to the owner and public at large that you are asserting ownership). All of these elements must be shown in order to prevail on a claim of adverse possession. Once a party has acquired title by adverse possession, she or he can demand a quitclaim deed from the owner and, if the owner refuses to sign, can file a lawsuit to obtain a judicial declaration that all of the elements for adverse possession have been met and they are now the owner. In order to avoid losing property by adverse possession, the owner must take action to remove the other party, such as commencing an eviction action or otherwise filing a lawsuit against him or her.
Real Estate Litigation
Our lawyers are experienced in all types real estate litigation matters, including quiet title actions, commercial and residential lease issues and disputes, adverse possession claims, deficiency actions, specific performance, construction disputes, HOA disputes, buyer-seller issues, contract disputes, fraud and nondisclosure, easement disputes, lien disputes, boundary disputes, and real estate professional negligence disputes.
Our law firm is experienced in handling construction defect cases. A home is often an individual’s single largest investment. New homes often come with hidden problems that can cost thousands of dollars to correct. Failure to properly compact the soil can cause cracking of concrete slabs, floors and walls. A poorly-constructed roof, framing or stucco can cause water leaks that can damage or ruin your personal property, diminish the value of your home, and allow the growth of dangerous molds. New home construction defects are often not covered under homeowners’ policies, meaning that you could be forced to pay for the repairs out of your own pocket. You should not have to pay for the poor workmanship.
Our law firm represents homeowners in construction defect cases against builders. If you suspect that you may be the victim of a bad builder, call our firm today for a consultation with one of our lawyers.
Whether you are a landlord seeking to evict a residential or commercial tenant or a tenant whose landlord is refusing to return your security deposit or wrongfully evicting you, you should seriously consider hiring a lawyer to assist you. Arizona landlord-tenant laws are complex and we strongly recommend consulting a lawyer to know your legal rights and responsibilities under the law. And if you decide to hire a lawyer to assist you, the successful party in Arizona has the right to request that the other party pay his or her fees.
As a landlord, we understand that your rental properties are valuable assets whether you own one or one hundred. If you have a tenant who is refusing to pay rent, failing to abide by the terms of the lease, or damaging your property, the last thing you want to do is disrupt for longer than necessary your income stream by failing to follow all of the necessary steps in the eviction process and being forced to begin the entire process anew, thereby resulting in further delays before you can get a new paying tenant. You also want to avoid the common pitfalls and problems that could end up delaying the eviction process several months and/or costing you significantly more money in the end. Our goal is to assist you in the legal process in order to bring about a swift and successful conclusion the first time.
As a tenant, you have the absolute right to live in a safe and healthy environment. You also have the right not to be wrongfully evicted and to have any unearned portion of your security deposit returned to you at the conclusion of your tenancy. The current economic downturn in Arizona has been equally tough on tenants as it has been on homeowners. It is becoming increasingly more common for landlords who are upside down in their property or management companies trying to increase their profit to refuse to return a tenant’s security deposit for bogus reasons. Fortunately, Arizona law provides remedies in such situations.
Our attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced in all aspects of landlord-tenant law and stand prepared to assist you with your questions and, if requested, represent you in any lawsuit. We can assist you in filing or defending the forcible detainer or special detainer case, Even if you ultimately decide to go it alone, a consultation with one of our lawyers can provide valuable insight and information.