Real Estate Law - Why Getting the Right Legal Advice is Imperative

This Help.Law guide is aimed at helping you find the legal advice you need. Real estate law can be applied in many circumstances, this overview is only a rough introduction to the large body of law that covers property and land ownership.

As a sub section of civil law, Real estate law deals with the rights associated with the ownership and usage of land. Because it also deals with the living spaces built on land, Real estate law impacts many people, including:

  • Homeowners
  • Renters
  • Landlords
  • Home buyers
  • Home sellers

Every individual state has been granted jurisdiction over the land inside its borders. As a result, the laws surrounding real estate will vary significantly depending where you are in the country.

What is Real Estate?

Under United States Law there are three recognized types of property:

  • Personal property
  • Intangible property
  • Real Property

Personal Property

This is anything that can be the subject of ownership but is not land. As a general rule, this covers moveable items such as furniture and electronic goods.

Intangible Property

This refers to ownership of items that lack physical existence. However, the intangible property can be represented in physical forms such as stocks cheques, money, and certificates. Any intellectual property also falls under the category of intangible.

Real Property a.k.a Real Estate

Real property refers to land and everything fixed upon land including buildings and crops. The term real estate is derived from the term real property and it is this type of property that real estate law deals with.

Personal Property
Moveable items such as furniture and electronic goods
Intangible Property
Stocks, cheques, money, certificates, intellectual property
Real Property a.k.a Real Estate
Land and everything fixed upon land including buildings and crops

Property Rental

Land Use Laws for Landlord’s and Tennants

The practices of leasing and renting a property are regulated by state law. Land use laws within each state usually cover aspects of property rental such as:

  • Security deposits
  • Rental payment
  • Evictions
  • Privacy

Within state law, property ownership will also be affected by local, zoning, and environmental laws.

Tenant Rights

Tennants rights also differ from state to state but as many are based on the federal rights of the citizens, many of these rights are universal. Tennants rights include:

  • Free from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, and disability, sexual orientation, and marital status
  • The right to have an animal for medical assistance such as a guide dog
  • The right to a habitable home
  • The right to a home free of lead poisoning
  • The right to privacy (A landlord can not enter your apartment without notice)

Landlord Rights

Landlords are legally entitled to:

  • Monthly payment of rent and utility bills
  • To evict tenants (with a cause)

Lease Agreements

A lease is where the legal parameters of the landlord-tenant relationship take written form. The lease is designed to protect the rights of both landlord and tenant in the event of a dispute. A typical lease agreement usually includes the following:

  • The names of the two parties involved (tenant and landlord)
  • Description of the rental unit
  • Rent Amount and monthly payment date
  • Security deposit amount
  • Any extra provisional rules such as the policy on pets or guests

It can occur that a landlord will include provisions on the lease agreement that are in fact illegal. This will have to be verified against the law within the state of that residence. Some common illegal inclusions are:

  • Discriminatory exclusion (religion, race, etc.)
  • Waiver of the right to take legal action against the landlord
  • Waiver of the right to collect the returned security deposit

A short-term lease agreement is often referred to as "rental agreement," typically for 30-day similarly short-term rentals. Lease agreements are typically for a year or more.

Buying and Selling Real Estate

The sale and purchase of real estate are generally covered by the principles that are found in contract law and individual state law. It is almost always necessary for these types of transactions to be drawn up in writing.

Buying a Home

A home is usually the biggest purchase a person makes in their lifetime. Before you enter the process of buying a home there are several aspects of your financial history you should be ready to explain or produce:

  • Employment History
  • Credit History
  • Cash for Downpayment
  • Cashflow

Selling a Home

There are several questions you should ask yourself before you start the process of selling your home:

  • Do I want to use a real estate agent?
  • Do I want to use an attorney?
  • Do I want to use a stager?

None of these is legally necessary in order for you to sell your home, and all of them will demand a fee for helping you do so. This is why you must assess whether or not their expertise is worth the cost for you. Some of the concerns these experts can help you with include:

  • Setting the Price
  • Dealing with offers and counteroffers
  • Finding a Buyer
  • Writing out Contracts

The information here is meant as a guide only, we recommend that anyone engaged in a legal action involving real estate should seek legal advice to help them navigate real estate Law.

If you want to know how to find the best real estate lawyer near you, Help.LAW can guide you in the right direction.

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