Civil Litigation Civil litigation attorneys of the law offices of Mooney & Associates adeptly handle disputes affecting small to large businesses. Contact us to schedule a consultation regarding any of the following: Corporate and commercial contract disputes Construction delays & contract disputes Damage claims from defective workmanship Breach of fiduciary duty claims Equity actions Injunctions Collections Landlord tenant disputes Unemployment compensation hearings Contracts Buying a home is one of a person’s largest investments during their lifetime. Residential real estate transactions are covered by numerous state and federal laws. The requirements established by state law differ significantly from one state to another. Several different contracts are involved in a typical residential real estate transaction. A listing agreement is the contract between the seller and the listing broker. It sets listing terms, the seller’s preferred sales price, and the commission rate. Most of these conditions are negotiable, including the commission. The listing agreement is critical to the seller, and he or she should review it carefully and have it reviewed by an attorney. Once a broker produces a willing and able buyer, the seller owes the broker his full commission, even if the seller decides not to sell. The agreement to sell between the buyer and the seller of real estate must be in writing. The terms of the purchase contract are typically negotiated through a series of offers and counter-offers. Other possible contracts include property insurance, title insurance, easements, sale of personal property and others. The terms of all these contracts are negotiable and can significantly effect the buyers financial well-being and the success of the transaction. An experienced real estate lawyer can protect your rights and insure that you achieve the terms that are in your best interest. The agreement to sell real estate between a buyer and a seller is governed by the general principles of contract law. The statute of frauds requires that real property contracts must be in writing. Title to real estate must be marketable, which means it must be free and clear of all encumbrances, liens, clouds, litigation risks, and other title defects. The buyer typically employs a title insurance company to perform a title search. The searcher examines the public records in the county in which the property is located, mapping a chain of title by examining all the recorded deeds concerning the property. The title searcher will also determine whether there are any encumbrances upon the property, such as mortgages, unpaid real estate taxes, liens for municipal improvements, unpaid federal taxes, government claims, legal judgments, foreclosures, condemnations, covenants or easements. A title insurance company will insure the buyer against losses caused by a title being invalid. Purchase agreements usually require that the title to the property be marketable. The seller must have proof of title to the property and the proof that third parties have no undisclosed interest in the title. A buyer uses a title insurance company or an attorney to determine whether the title is marketable. In order to pass title, a deed with an accurate property description must be signed and delivered. Construction Law Construction industry in the U.S. has seen unprecedented growth in recent years. Construction of both residential and commercial buildings has increased rapidly with the growth in industry and homes. However, rapid growth has also increased construction related disputes. If you are faced with a construction related legal issue, you need the assistance of an experienced real estate attorney. The construction contract is the essential document which sets forth the rights and responsibilities of each party to the agreement. It is important that you read the document carefully and that you understand all of it. The legal consequences may not be obvious, so it is important that you have an attorney review it with you. While some compromise may be necessary, you need to be certain that this truly is the agreement that you want to make. If it is not, you should not sign the agreement unless the changes you want are made. You will be legally bound by this contract, and there is no defense to say that you did not read or understand it. The contract should explain exactly what the contractor will do and how much the property owner will be expected to pay for what the contractor does. Most construction contracts are standardized forms supplied by the contractor. A typical construction contract will set out a time line for completion of the project, scheduled payments, penalties for late performance, and a method by which to resolve disputes. When reviewing the contract it is important to determine what are reasonable expectations from each party. Time limitations should be realistic, and fees and expenses charged should be acceptable to the property owner. All these things need to be acceptable to you before signing the contract. The construction contract is the entire statement of the contractor-property owner relationship. Your best protection is to be completely familiar with every aspect of the contract. Despite both party’s best efforts to make the construction contract acceptable, disputes often arise during a construction project. Disputes can cause delays and add expense to the project. Disputes that arise at any time are costly and consume a great deal of everyone’s time and energy. Most construction contracts describe how disputes are to be resolved. Many contracts will have parties use alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, such as arbitration or mediation, rather than take a dispute to court. If the contract requires alternate dispute resolutions, that is how disputes will be heard. If it is specified in the contract, it is not optional. On the other hand, alternative dispute resolution methods are generally faster and less expensive than traditional litigation which works to the advantage of both parties. Construction disputes can create massive legal issues including liens upon the real estate. Prior experience and knowledge of potential issues by an experienced real estate attorney may allow both parties to adequately draft the construction agreement to avoid disagreements throughout the process. Prior to signing a construction agreement, it is important to review it with an experienced real estate attorney such as the lawyers at Mooney & Associates. Landlord/Tenant When entering into a lease for an apartment or rental property, you need to sign documents that bind you to your decision. When you sign your name on a lease, you are entering into a contract that binds you with the other party to certain obligations and affords you certain rights. Before the contract is signed, there are laws in effect which limit the real estate rental process. There are laws that require information to be disclosed to a potential tenant about the property such as what limitations may be placed on the rental. There are laws that govern how the agent-client relationship is set up and how much compensation an agent can receive. There are federal laws, such as The Fair Housing Act, that bind people across the country, no matter where they live. The Fair Housing Act has strict limits on the manner in which and to whom a landlord or owner may rent a property. There are many other state laws requiring obligations of both the landlord and the tenant. The landlord will be required to maintain the property in a manner that is habitable, and the tenant is required to maintain the property as they received it, or a security deposit does not need to be returned by the landlord. States have similar laws, and each state’s requirements will vary. A lease usually binds parties to a period of time such as 6 months or a year. A lease is considered valid over that period as long as the tenant continues to pay the rent and abide by the other requirements of the lease. Leases are generally not automatically renewed at their expiration and, instead, require the parties to re-sign or re-negotiate the lease for the next term or period of time. A rental agreement may be for a short time of occupancy such as one month. The tenancy agreement is automatically renewed at the end of the period unless either the tenant or the landlord provides a written notice to the other party that it will no longer be renewed following the terms of the agreement. This type of situation is called a month-to-month rental. In addition to opting not to renew a rental agreement, a landlord may also change the terms of the agreement after providing notice to the tenant. This right is subject to certain limitations such as rent control laws and potential other laws depending on the state in which the property is located. Many times a lease is initiated for a period of time, such as a year, with a continuing form of month-to-month, allowing either party to give a certain number of days as notice to be released from the lease. If a tenant fails to pay the rent when due or consistently has loud parties resulting in property damage, a landlord may have the right to evict them and retain the security deposit. Also, a tenant may have the right to break a lease and move from a rental property if the landlord fails to make necessary repairs or to maintain the property in a habitable condition. The laws governing the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants are determined by the states, not the federal government. For that reason the ramifications and remedies may be very different from one location to another location across the country. In most respect, the rights of tenants have been expanded moreover than the rights of landlords because of the unequal bargaining positions of the parties. Landlords and tenants both have various legal rights and obligations when they are involved in a real estate rental. If you have questions regarding a real estate rental transaction in which you are involved, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced real estate attorney, the lawyers at Mooney & Associates, to ensure that your rights are protected and that your interests are maintained before signing the rental agreement or lease. Our civil litigation team practices law that emphasizes proven trial techniques. We help our clients negotiate, and if necessary litigate, their issues as we strive to resolve disputes with minimal waste of time and money. At Mooney & Associates, Attorneys at Law, we protect clients’ rights, keeping them informed and advising them on what to expect at every step of a civil litigation case. We have achieved favorable outcomes for a wide range of business clients grappling with contract disputes and other legal conflicts calling for litigation. Our litigation attorneys work as a team to develop the best strategies for representation of each client’s best interests. At the same time, clients know which lawyer is ultimately responsible for their cases and how to contact those attorneys as needed. We believe in the value of a free flow of information combined with our expertise, which helps individuals make their own best decisions. Experience the responsive, communicative style of Mooney & Associates. Contact us to schedule an initial consultation regarding any civil litigation matter.