Real Property Law

If you are a homeowner, a neighbor, or plan to buy or sell real estate, you may need a real estate attorney to settle disputes and to make sure your property and assets are protected. There are many disputes that may occur before buying a house, if you have to make negotiations with tenants/landlords, or if you plan on selling a property. If you need the help of a real estate lawyer, you can contact our agents the offices at Griffin & Davis, PLLC.

Buying Property

There are many things to know before buying your first, second, third, or even fourth property, especially if you are trying to protect your future estate and finances. When purchasing new property, there are occasionally situations where sellers may cut corners and sell the property under false pretenses. To finalize the purchase of a property, you must complete a legal document called a purchase agreement. The purchase agreement must be signed by all parties (buyer and seller) and must include the sale price, acceptance of the property/offer to buy the property, and a description of the property.

It is also important to know the legal repercussions you may face as a homeowner. When you buy a home, it is an important purchase that cannot be returned. You should know all the information available to you to make sure your home buying decision is the right one.

Buying Conditions

As a homebuyer, there are several conditions, such as finances, insurance, and inspections, that you will want to make sure to outline with the seller before purchase. Many of these conditions will benefit both the buyer and seller of the property and is in both parties best interests to agree to. These conditions or contingencies include:

Buyers Inspection Contingency

  • The buyer conditions the closing/buying of the property on a home inspection being done by professional inspectors/general contractors.
  • This ensures the buyer is purchasing a property without unknown disclosures, such as water damage, heating/plumbing issues, mold/mildew, or roof problems.
  • Sometimes, sellers may not be aware of the issues that are going on in their properties. It is illegal to sell a property in Tennessee without disclosing information and conditions of the property, so it is helpful to them to get an inspection and make sure all issues are reported and that they will not be later taken to court over any property issues.

Financing Contingency

  • This conditions that the buyer, you, will secure a loan or other finances that will allow you to buy the home.
  • This allows the seller to know they will receive the proper payment they require for selling the home and will not end up selling to an individual unable to pay the home fees.

Insurance Contingency

  • This conditions that the buyer will apply for and receive insurance coverage for the property, in order to purchase the home.
  • This homeowner’s insurance protects the buyer from potential future hazards, such as natural disasters like flooding/tornados, toxic mold, or some types of personal liability–such as if a package deliverer injures themselves due to decaying steps on your property.

Miscellaneous Contingencies

  • Some buyers and sellers may want to negotiate other contingencies to buy/sell the property. These are less common and are based on what both parties may desire.
  • An example of this may include the seller acquiring certain living arrangements before the buyer can take over the house. A buyer may decide not to agree to this condition if they need to move within a certain time period.

Selling/Renting Property

If you are selling property in Tennessee, there are certain laws you must follow in order to finish selling the land. In addition, sellers may want to make other legal preparations if they are selling/renting property to make sure they are not held liable for issues they are not responsible for or can evict tenants if they are causing damage to property.

Seller Disclosure Requirement

As a seller, you must disclose all information on the property as required by law in the state of Tennessee. Upon selling, you must provide the new owners with a Tennessee disclosure form which details information about the property, such as:

  • Environmental hazards, such as mold or mildew;
  • Home remodeling that was done without a permit;
  • Defects that you know of, such as issues with the plumbing or electrical systems;
  • Any structural damage that has occurred, such as from earthquakes or fires;
  • Items included in the sale and their condition/whether they are in working order;
  • Any potential neighborhood noise issues;
  • Presence of any known water well;
  • Soil Test results of the property;
  • If there is a sinkhole; and
  • If any groundwater erosion exists.

There are also items of information that, under Tennessee law, you, as a seller, are not required to disclose. These include:

  • If there was a suicide or homicide on the property; and
  • If prior residents had any diseases not likely to be spread to new homeowners, such as HIV.

Property Titles

As a prospective homebuyer, you should always purchase a title from a title company before completing a home purchase. The title company will research public records to inform you of any restrictions that may affect your ability to gain a title for the property. If problems are unearthed, then it is the seller’s responsibility to correct them before the property can finish being purchased.

Mortgage companies normally require homeowners to purchase a title insurance policy before the buyer can obtain a mortgage. Title insurance protects the buyer against any claims from third parties or any problems with the property not found through a title search by the title company.

Contact the offices of Griffin & Davis, PLLC today if you are buying or selling a property. Our real estate lawyers have years of experience handling cases involving the rightful transfer of titles, making sure renters/landlords follow agreements previously signed on, ensuring that all parties are telling the truth on documentation, and more. If you need legal advice or assistance when negotiating or dealing with property law, reach out to our team of attorneys at 931-837-2050 or 865-354-3333.

 

FAQ

My Homeowner’s Association keeps harassing me. What options do I have?

After you purchase a home, it is likely you will automatically be entered into a Homeowner’s Association (HOA), whose members include other houses in your immediate neighborhood. Unfortunately, some HOA organizations use the group to unfairly harass homeowners. Even if you have small fines that have not been paid, HOAs have been known to place liens for unpaid dues. In the state of Tennessee, if you become delinquent with your payments, your HOA has the right to foreclose your house.

If you believe you are being unfairly fined by an HOA organization, it is important to get in touch with an attorney immediately. A real estate attorney has knowledge of HOA rules and regulations and what laws they must abide by. A seasoned attorney may be able to sue an HOA organization and prevent them from future fines and harassments. If you face foreclosure from an HOA group, it is even more important to contact an attorney to retain your property.

My renters have not paid rent, will not leave, and are trashing my property. What rights do I have as a landlord?

In the state of Tennessee, if you are a landlord and have tenants who have not paid rent, you can initiate what is known as detainer action. This will recover your property and obtain a money judgment over your tenant’s unpaid rent and any other amounts owed, according to the lease agreement.

If a tenant has also caused damage to property, you have rights to receive compensation for that, especially if it is added to the lease or if you have proof the damage was not there before the tenants moved in and was not caused by ordinary wear and tear. As a landlord, you also can receive additional money from tenants if they stay after being evicted and incur additional damages and expenses. It may become necessary to take tenants/former tenants to court if they refuse payment. Some of what you as the landlord can be reimbursed for include:

  • Lost profits because renters refuse to leave or pay the amount due; and
  • Relocation fees, such as moving and eviction expenses.

I am a tenant in Tennessee and my landlord refuses to make necessary repairs to the property. What options do I have?

If your lease agreement states your landlord must take care of the property by completing repairs and other necessary upkeep, you may be able to speak with an attorney over a breach of contract. If it is not within your lease agreement that your landlord must complete repairs, you should still talk to an attorney. If, because of the failure of repairs, the property becomes uninhabitable, a tenant may have other options available. However, even if your landlord is refusing to perform repairs, you should not withhold rent, as this can be seen as a breach of contract and may result in penalties. If you need help receiving your lawful rights as a tenant, you should contact a lawyer in Tennessee for more legal assistance.