THIS MONTH'S REAL ESTATE LAW UPDATE IS ABOUT THE RULES OF THE ROAD FOR YOUR HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATION'S DESIGN REVIEW COMMITTEE
A faithful reader, appraiser Steve Cole, suggested that in my next Update on the subject of homeowners' associations, I should discuss the ins and outs of architectural review, also known as design review. If you have ever lived in a neighborhood governed by, or otherwise had to deal with, a homeowners' association, you have probably heard about the architectural review committee. The architectural review committee is the arm of the homeowners' association that is charged with making decisions implementing the association's aesthetic guidelines. In other words, they get to decide whether or not your house addition, patio wall, or new landscaping will be approved under the association's rules.
Read all about it in my latest Real Estate Law Update, posted in the publications section of deconcinimcdonald.com.
A story I just read is similar to the one I posted about recently involving land in Tempe, in that this story, like the Tempe case, involves an individual claiming that he was the true owner of a parcel of land because his ancestors had occupied it. This guy, unlike the guy in Tempe, at least apparently had some ancient documents that he thought backed up his claim, although it sounds like they really didn’t. The difference here is that this guy wasn’t the occupant of the property. He essentially showed up out of nowhere and claimed that the land in question was his, a claim which was disputed by the occupants. So in this case the claimant was not the occupant, but was claiming title based on documents, whereas in the Tempe case the claimant was the occupant, but had no documents.
The claimant in this case lost just like the claimant in the Tempe case, based on the same legal principle: adverse possession. The occupants in this case were able to successfully defeat the competing claim to the property by asserting adverse possession. In the Tempe case, the claimant’s attempt to assert ownership of the property under the doctrine of adverse possession was unsuccessful because the owner was the state. If title to that property had been held by a private owner, the claim of adverse possession probably would have worked.
Today there is yet another installment in the story about the individual who claims he is the rightful owner of a piece of land by the Salt River in Tempe. He claims that his family has occupied the land since territorial days. I have no idea if that claim is true or not. I will, however, take as true this statement in the story that appeared on azcentral.com today: the individual making the claim “could provide no records of ownership.” I’m also going to assume the truth of this statement in that story: the land was “given by the federal government to the territory of Arizona in 1863, ordered to be held in trust and auctioned off to provide money for public education.” In other words, it is state trust land. Finally, I’m going to take as a fact the statement that the city of Tempe bought half of the property in what sounds like it was a 3-way deal among the state, the city, and the railroad.
Without knowing anything else about it, I think I can pretty confidently say that with those facts, the case is over, and the individual loses. Why? Because (1) he can’t prove that he ever had title, and (2) the doctrine of adverse possession doesn’t operate against the state or a city (which is a political subdivision of the state).
The newspaper reporter tries to paint a sympathetic portrait of the individual who is claiming the land. For all I know, maybe the individual deserves sympathy. Legally, however, I’m pretty sure that he is wrong, and the courts have reached the correct result.
If you’re interested (which might require that you be a student of real estate law, as I am), you can read more about the subject of adverse possession in two newsletters in my archive, one from April, 2003, and the other from July, 2005.
Apparently I’m not the only one who has noticed, and Tucson is not the only place, that Mattress Firm has far more stores than seems normal. How could they possibly have the sales volume to justify all that overhead? Maybe the markup on mattresses is high, but I doubt it’s that high.
There’s been some news lately about court actions involving the “waters of the United States” rule. That’s a rule promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency that essentially defines what property is governed by the federal Clean Water Act. One of my firm’s natural resources law practitioners discussed it a while back in an update on the firm’s website.
Those court actions may soon be moot, however, as further discussed by another commentator. That’s because it’s been announced that the EPA is moving to change or rescind the rule. The result is likely to be a much less broad interpretation of what property is governed by the Clean Water Act. If that happens, then the court challenges to the rule will probably go away.
From the Pacific Northwest: force landlords to rent to the first applicant, regardless of other factors.
What’s that going to do to rental rates and security deposit requirements, do you think?
This is from the same locality that thinks a 1.75 cent per ounce tax on sugary drinks will both make people buy less of those products and be a revenue raiser for the city.
Are states really going to shift their personal tax levies from income taxes to payroll taxes just to preserve the unlimited deductibility of state and local taxes on their residents’ federal income tax returns?
You’d think that the new federal tax legislation had eliminated entirely the deduction for state and local taxes (“SALT, as the acronym mavens have dubbed it). Remember, however, that isn’t what happened. All the federal tax legislation did was limit the state and local tax deduction to $10,000 per year. As I have alluded to previously, my hunch is that there aren’t all that many taxpayers who pay more than $10,000 in state and local taxes and have more than $24,000 in itemized deductions. You have to have more than $24,000 in itemized deductions to benefit from the state and local tax deduction. Those who do fit that profile are probably owners of expensive houses with big mortgages in high-tax localities.
I could be wrong, but I doubt that there’s a big enough constituency for a shift to payroll taxes that the idea will go anywhere, all the pontificating by politicians and academics notwithstanding.
I don’t remember if I posted about this when it first appeared last January, but even if I did it’s worth another link. It’s an item about the EPA telling people in Alaska that they shouldn’t burn wood to keep warm in the winter. Because it pollutes the air, don’t you know. Better that they freeze to death, or leave the Alaska to the caribou, I suppose.
Back in November I wrote about the proposed change to the mortgage interest deduction that was part of the tax reform legislation that was pending in Congress. The proposal was to reduce the ceiling for home acquisition debt for which the interest is deductible from $1 million to $500,000.
So what happened? The ceiling was reduced, but not as much as was proposed. The new ceiling is $750,000 ($375,000 for married filing separately).
Another limitation was imposed, however, in that the deductibility of interest on home equity loans has been suspended. Under existing law you could deduct the interest on home equity loans up to an amount borrowed of up to $100,000.
What about existing home acquisition loans that are over the limit? You don’t lose any deduction on those. The new lower limit doesn’t apply to any acquisition indebtedness incurred before December 15, 2017.
I have written about this subject many times. It keeps coming up, so I keep putting my perspective on it out there for anyone who is interested. I think my perspective is somewhat unique, and is definitely different from the naysayers’ perspective. In addition to my experience as a lawyer dealing with land use questions, I have a lifetime, literally, of personal experience with this issue.
I’ll keep saying it: in my opinion, the presence of D-M is positive overall, and the naysayers must not have been paying attention when they moved here.
The contents of this blog, this web site, and any writings by me that are linked here, are all my personal commentary. None of it is intended to be legal advice for your situation.