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Houston Legal Blog

Can I adversely possess property with a fence?

In a recent case, a plaintiff attempted to rely on her maintenance of a fence that was in place when the parties took ownership of the property as evidence of her open and hostile adverse possession of the property. Texas courts have repeatedly found that maintenance of a casual fence does not create a designed enclosure, nor does it begin the running of the statute of limitations for adverse possession against cotenants. "Under the applicable case law, there are two kinds of fences: "casual fences" and fences that "designedly enclose" an area. If the fence existed before the claimant took possession of the land and the claimant fails to demonstrate the purpose for which it was erected, then the fence is a "casual fence." Repairing or maintaining a casual fence, even for the express purpose of keeping the claimant's animals within the enclosed area, generally does not change a casual fence into a designed enclosure. A claimant may so change the character of a casual fence that it becomes a designed enclosure, and evidence of such a substantial modification is sufficient to support a jury finding of adverse possession. However, we have neither been cited to nor found a case that establishes whether or when modification requires a finding of adverse possession as a matter of law." Rhodes v. Cahill, 802 S.W.2d 643, 646 (Tex.1990) (quoting Orsborn v. Deep Rock Oil Corp., 153 Tex. 281, 288-89, 267 S.W.2d 781, 786 (1954)).

What is "ouster" in Texas Adverse Possession case law?

Consistently, the Courts have required that the cotenant attempting to take full ownership must prove actual or constructive ouster, or repudiation, of his or her fellow cotenants.

When can you keep a tenant's security deposit in Texas?

Rental relationships are often fraught with potential pitfalls, leading many landlords to protect themselves with extensive lease contracts. The terms of these leases typically restrict how tenants can utilize the property and also mandate the payment of a security deposit for the premises.

If your tenant is about to move out, it is common to wonder when you have the right to keep the security deposit that they paid on the property. Making a mistake could leave you vulnerable to legal action by former tenants that could hurt your reputation and cost more money than the security deposit. So, under what circumstances do you have the right to retain a security deposit?

What is the difference between Lease Listing Agent & Leasing Agent?

Just as there are two side in a real estate sales transaction, there are generally two sides represented in a leasing transaction.

Lease listing agent - a Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) license holder who is hired to work in the best interests of a landlord and represents the landlord in the transaction

Leasing agent - a TREC license holder who earns a fee by finding a qualified applicant for a particular property and obtains a signed lease. Leasing agents represent the best interests of the prospective tenants in the transaction. By determining the wants and needs of the prospective tenants, leasing agents are charged with

* showing appropriate properties to prospects,

* interacting with the listing agent,

* presenting the application(s) to the listing agent along with all the required paperwork, and

* determining financial requirements.

Lease listing and leasing agents might use the following questions in leasing:

* Which qualifying criteria should be considered?

* Does the applicant have satisfactory leasing or mortgage history?

* Does the applicant have a satisfactory work history?

* Does the applicant have adequate income to fulfill the terms and conditions of

the lease?

While some real estate attorneys may believe that there are vast differences between the commercial and residential leasing practices, the basics of both specialties are the same. In all legal cases relating to this topic, real estate agents are required to follow the TREC Canons of Professional Ethics, which include Fidelity, Integrity, Competency, Consumer Information, Discriminatory Practices and Information About Brokerage Services. 

Trouble with your homeowner’s association? Know your rights

Living in a home that requires joining a homeowner's association can be a blessing or a curse, depending mostly on the individuals involved. Many people who participate in homeowner's associations, or HOAs, see the benefits but recognize that these organizations often give people an opportunity to create conflict over relatively small disagreements. Unfortunately, some homeowners find themselves on the wrong end of a dispute and face legal action, often over something trivial.

If your HOA threatens you with a lawsuit or claims that you violated the guidelines, it can seem like an easy thing to ignore. This is not a wise course of action, in most cases. If you do not resolve the conflict properly, it may make living in your own home difficult and uncomfortable, along with potential consequences like heavy fines.

Deconstructing wrap-around loans: How do they work?

The word sounds pretty simple: "wrap-around." But that doesn't mean everyone understands what they're getting into when they say "yes" to a wrap-around mortgage. These loans are not uncommon and they can work well for a seller-financed loan when the seller still owes money on the mortgage.

To understand a wrap-around mortgage, first we need to understand seller financing:

Can I reclaim my home after foreclosure?

Homeownership has long been viewed as a pillar of American independence and a benchmark of upward mobility, but the realities of owning a home are often far more complicated than homeowners realize when they finalize their purchase.

Life is full of hidden twists and turns, and a streak of bad luck or a large-scale downturn in the local or national economy may mean that a homeowner simply cannot make their mortgage payments. If the homeowner cannot get back on track with their payments quickly, then the bank will probably foreclose on the home.

Resolving boundary disputes with neighbors

When you purchase a piece of real estate, the condition of the property and the opportunities or restrictions innate to the space are not the only issues you must address. You may also find that your property comes with complications you did not anticipate with your neighbors, especially where it concerns the legal boundaries of the property.

This is common in both residential and commercial settings, and deserves direct, effective attention. Failing to properly resolve a boundary dispute with a neighbor may create an ongoing source of contention that can significantly impact your time in the property and the ways you use the property.

Protecting your home purchase from legal complications

Buying a home is a complicated process with many opportunities for unforeseen complications. Whether a buyer is considering his or her first home or is relatively familiar with home buying, each potential sale requires detailed attention to ensure that purchase is fair and complete, and that the buyer understands the benefits and potential hazards within the property itself.

Without proper understanding of the many potential problem areas in home buying, it is still possible to purchase a home successfully, but only as long as nothing goes wrong during the process and no other party attempts to take advantage of the buyer. A buyer may even have friends or family who experience little or no problem while buying a home, and think that this is the norm. Unfortunately, problem-free real estate purchases are not the norm, and the consequences of failing to identify and address these issues ahead of time or as they arise may prove disastrous.

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