Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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In this summary process eviction action the Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the Housing Court allowing an execution to issue on Landlord’s representation that Tenant had violated a nonfinancial condition of the appeals bond, holding that the Housing Court judge’s order of execution of judgment for failure to comply with a nonfinancial condition of the bond was improper. Landlord served Tenant with a notice of termination of tenancy before bringing a summary process eviction action against her. Following a trial, Landlord received a judgment of execution, and the Housing Court judge allowed the execution to issue. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding (1) a legally effective notice to quit is a condition precedent to a summary process action and part of the landlord’s prime facie case but is not jurisdictional; (2) the notice to quit in this case was not defective; (3) the Housing Court judge abused his discretion when, without providing advance notice that he would conduct trial on the same day as a scheduled hearing on Tenant’s motion to vacate a default judgment, he denied a volunteer attorney’s request for a continuance provided by Housing Court Standing Order 1-01; and (4) the judge lacked statutory authority to impose a nonfinancial condition on the appeals bond. View "Cambridge Street Realty, LLC v. Stewart" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the single justice that the decision of the Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers suspending Michael Thomann’s license for ten days, imposing a $1,200 civil penalty, and imposing certain conditions on the reinstatement of his license was supported by substantial evidence and free of any errors of law. An administrative hearing officer concluded that the Board established that Thomas had violated 254 Code Mass. Regs. 2.00(11), 3.00(14)(e) and 3.00(13)(a) by engaging in the business of real estate brokering through an unlicesed limited liability company and by failing to provide a certain notice of agency disclosure to the seller of real property. As a sanction, the Board ordered suspension of Thomann’s license for ten days. On review, the single justice affirmed the Board’s final decision and order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no error in the Board’s decision. View "Thomann v. Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers & Salesmen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the superior court allowing Defendant’s motion to dismiss this complaint seeking a judgment declaring that an appraisal was invalid and nonbinding and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, holding that the common-law rule established in Eliot v. Coulee, 322 Mass. 86, 91 (1947), properly balances the need for fair valuations with the need for finality in the appraisal process and that an appearance of bias alone is insufficient to invalidate an appraisal. The common-law rule established in Eliot provides that where parties agree that the fair value of a property shall be determined by an appraiser, the correctness of the methods of the appraiser’s valuation cannot be inquired into by the courts in the absence of fraud, corruption, dishonesty or bad faith. Plaintiff asked the Court to modify the rule to allow a judge to invalidate an appraisal where there is the appearance of bias on the part of the entity that employed the individual appraiser. The Supreme Judicial Court declined to modify the common-law rule and affirmed the dismissal of this case, holding that the facts alleged did not require a court to invalidate an independent appraisal agreed to by the parties. View "Buffalo-Water 1, LLC v. Fidelity Real Estate Company, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the court denying Petitioners’ petition or relief pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 and for a writ of mandamus pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 249, 5, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse his discretion in denying relief. Petitioners sought relief after their property was foreclosed on a tax lien. After Petitioners’ efforts in the federal courts were unsuccessful, they filed their petition in the county court asking the court to vacate the lower court judgments and to order the town of Rehoboth to return their house and all of the personal property kept therein. The single justice denied the petition without a hearing. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that where Petitioners already obtained appellate review of the tax lien foreclosure judgment and to the extent that there were other trial court judgments with which they were dissatisfied, they had a remedy in the normal appellate process. View "Cichocki v. Town of Rehoboth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the Court denying, without a hearing, Petitioner’s petition for extraordinary relief in the nature of mandamus, pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that the single justice neither erred nor abused his discretion in denying the petition. In this case, one of several cases relating to Bahig Bishay’s eviction from his home, Bishay appealed from a final judgment. While that appeal was pending, Bishay and National Investigations, Inc. filed a joint petition pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 seeking, inter alia, an order requiring the superior court judge to incorporate an agreement into the final judgment. The single justice denied the petition. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Petitioners failed to meet their burden of establishing that the normal appellate process was inadequate to provide a remedy. View "Bishay v. Superior Court Department" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the county court denying Petitioners’ petition for relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that Petitioners demonstrated no error of law or abuse of discretion in the denial of extraordinary relief. Petitioners were defendants in a summary process action commenced by a bank. The bank was awarded possession of the property after a trial. The Appellate Division affirmed. Thereafter, an execution issued on the judgment for possession. After moving unsuccessfully to vacate the execution, Petitioners filed a motion to stay or strike the execution. The Appellate Division denied the motion. Petitioners then filed the instant Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 petition. A single justice of the Court denied the petition without a hearing. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Petitioners had, and to some extent pursued, an avenue for relief in the ordinary appellate process. View "Bishay v. Merrill Lynch Credit Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the county court denying, without a hearing, Petitioner’s petition for relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, in which Petitioner sought the dissolution of a memorandum of lis pendens, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse his discretion in denying extraordinary relief. Petitioner was a defendant in an action in the superior court concerning certain real property. On the motion of the plaintiff, a judge endorsed the memorandum of lis pendens at issue in this case. Petitioner appealed from a judgment enforcing the parties’ agreement to settle the case, challenging the enforcement of the settlement agreements, as well as the endorsement of the memorandum of lis pendens. Before the Appeals Court affirmed, Petitioner filed this Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 petition. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the single justice properly denied extraordinary relief because the case in the superior court had not yet gone to final judgment. View "Saade v. Price" on Justia Law

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Here, the Supreme Judicial Court retained the law that an individual whose property is damaged by a neighbor’s healthy tree has no cause of action against a landowner of the property upon which the tree lies. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court judge dismissing Plaintiff’s claims of private nuisance and trespass against Defendants after a tree on Defendants’ property allegedly caused algae buildup on the roof of Plaintiff’s home. The judge dismissed Plaintiff’s claims as precluded by Ponte v. DaSilva, 388 Mass. 1008 (1983). The Appellate Division affirmed. On appeal, Plaintiff conceded that Ponte was controlling but asked that the Supreme Judicial Court overrule Ponte and related cases. The Supreme Judicial Court reaffirmed the Massachusetts rule established in Ponte and related cases, concluding that the rule is not outdated and that there are multiple benefits to the rule. View "Shiel v. Rowell" on Justia Law

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For the same reasons stated in Rental Prop. Mgmt. Servs. v. Hatcher, 479 Mass. __ (2018), also decided today, the Supreme Judicial Court held that Fred Basile, a property manager, had no standing to bring a summary process action in his own name when he was neither the owner nor the lessor of the property. Basile brought this summary process action in the name of his sole proprietorship seeking to evict a tenant from a property for which Basile was neither the owner nor the lessor. The tenant asserted counterclaims for the unauthorized practice of law and violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A. The trial judge enjoined Basile from commencing summary process actions such as the one in this case but entered judgment in favor of Basile on the chapter 93A counterclaims. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Basile had no standing to bring the summary process action; (2) to the extent Basile was acting as the agent of the property owner, he engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by signing and filing the complaint because he was not an attorney; and (3) Basile’s conduct on its own did not constitute an unfair or deceptive practice in violation of chapter 93A. View "Ahmed-Kagzi v. Williams" on Justia Law

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Fred Basile, a property manager, had no standing to bring a summary process action in the name of his sole proprietorship seeking to evict a tenant from a property for which Basile was neither the owner nor the lessor. To the extent that Basile was acting on behalf of the property’s true owner when he filed the complaint, his conduct constituted the unauthorized practice of law because Basile was not an attorney. The Supreme Judicial Court further held (1) where the plaintiff in a summary process action is not the property’s owner or lessor, the complaint must be dismissed with prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; (2) where the plaintiff is the true owner or lessor but the complaint has been signed and filed by another non-attorney person, the court may either dismiss the complaint without prejudice based on the unauthorized practice of law or allow the plaintiff to retain counsel or proceed pro se; and (3) where a plaintiff seeks to evict a tenant without the standing to do so, or where a person who is not authorized to practice law signs and files a summary process complaint, and where that conduct is not inadvertent, a court has the inherent authority to impose appropriate sanctions. View "Rental Property Management Services v. Hatcher" on Justia Law