Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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HH intended to open an Indianapolis retail establishment, “Hustler Hollywood,” entered a 10-year lease, and applied for sign and building permits. HH’s proposed store was located in a zoning district that prohibited “adult entertainment businesses.” The Department of Business and Neighborhood Services determined that HH was an adult entertainment business; the Board of Zoning Appeals affirmed. HH sought a declaratory judgment that the ordinance violated its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The district court denied HH’s motion for a preliminary injunction. On interlocutory appeal with respect to its as-applied First Amendment claim, the Seventh Circuit affirmed. HH’s speech has not been silenced or suppressed; HH has only been told that it cannot operate in a particular commercial district. The ordinance is “content-neutral” and the city’s interest in reducing the secondary effects of adult businesses is a sufficient or substantial interest. Application of the ordinance resulted only in an incidental restriction on HH’s speech in a particular location. HH presented no evidence that officials displayed any bias or censorial intent in their determinations; the city was under no constitutional obligation to inspect the property or allow HH to open conditionally before making its determination. View "HH-Indianapolis, LLC v. Consolidated City of Indianapolis" on Justia Law

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Linderman bought an Indianapolis house in 2004 and lived there with her ex-husband, their children, and her parents. In 2013, Linderman left and stopped paying the mortgage loan. The others left in 2014. The unoccupied structure was vandalized. U.S. Bank, which owns the note and mortgage, started foreclosure proceedings. The vandalism produced insurance money that was sent to the Bank. The city notified Linderman of code violations. Linderman hired a contractor. In 2015 the Bank disbursed $10,000 for repairs. The contractor abandoned the job. The house was vandalized twice more; a storm damaged the roof. Linderman has not hired a replacement contractor or asked the Bank for additional funds but inquired about the status of the loan and the insurance money. The Bank sent a response. Asserting that she had not received that response, Linderman sued under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 12 U.S.C. 2605(e)(1)(B). The Seventh Circuit affirmed the rejection of her claims. None of Linderman’s problems with her marriage and mental health can be traced to the Bank. Linderman does not explain how earlier access to the Bank’s record of the account could have helped her; some of her asserted injuries are outside the scope of the Act. The contract between Linderman and the Bank, not federal law, determines how insurance proceeds must be handled. Contract law also governs the arrangement between Linderman and the contractor. View "Floyd v. U.S. Bank National Association" on Justia Law

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Linderman bought an Indianapolis house in 2004 and lived there with her ex-husband, their children, and her parents. In 2013, Linderman left and stopped paying the mortgage loan. The others left in 2014. The unoccupied structure was vandalized. U.S. Bank, which owns the note and mortgage, started foreclosure proceedings. The vandalism produced insurance money that was sent to the Bank. The city notified Linderman of code violations. Linderman hired a contractor. In 2015 the Bank disbursed $10,000 for repairs. The contractor abandoned the job. The house was vandalized twice more; a storm damaged the roof. Linderman has not hired a replacement contractor or asked the Bank for additional funds but inquired about the status of the loan and the insurance money. The Bank sent a response. Asserting that she had not received that response, Linderman sued under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 12 U.S.C. 2605(e)(1)(B). The Seventh Circuit affirmed the rejection of her claims. None of Linderman’s problems with her marriage and mental health can be traced to the Bank. Linderman does not explain how earlier access to the Bank’s record of the account could have helped her; some of her asserted injuries are outside the scope of the Act. The contract between Linderman and the Bank, not federal law, determines how insurance proceeds must be handled. Contract law also governs the arrangement between Linderman and the contractor. View "Floyd v. U.S. Bank National Association" on Justia Law

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Thorncreek, a Park Forest townhouse complex, applied to the Village for a permit to use a vacant townhouse as a business office but began to conduct its business from the townhouse without a permit. The Village cited it for zoning violations and operating without the required permit. The Village later filed suit to halt the zoning and operating violations and to redress certain building-code violations. Thorncreek counterclaimed against the Village and 10 officials, claiming civil-rights violations under 42 U.S.C. 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1986 and the Illinois Civil Rights Act. Two Thorncreek "areas" went into foreclosure. Thorncreek blamed the Village’s regulatory overreach in denying a business license, interfering with business operations, refusing to grant a conditional use permit, failing to issue a certificate of occupancy, and unequally enforcing a building-code provision requiring electrical upgrades, based on irrational animus against Clapper, the owner, and racial bias against its black residents. A jury found the Village and Village Manager Mick liable for a class-of-one equal-protection violation; found Mick and Kerestes, the director of community development, liable for conspiracy (section 1985(3)); otherwise rejected the claims, and awarded $2,014,000 in compensatory damages. Because the jury rejected the race-based equal-protection claim, the judge struck the verdict against Kerestes. The judge awarded $430,999.25 in fees and $44,844.33 in costs. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to the judgment against Mick, the admission of evidence concerning Clapper’s wealth, and the admission of Thorncreek’s financial records. View "Thorncreek Apartments I, LLC v. Village of Park Forest" on Justia Law

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Henricks owned a towing business, an auto body shop, and a vehicle dealership, which he used to defraud insurance companies by filing fraudulent claims. Henricks’s wife, Catherine, worked at the companies sporadically and was an officer of two of them and a member of the other. She opened bank accounts and signed loan documents on behalf of the companies. Henricks pleaded guilty to mail fraud and immediately began to hide assets. He was sentenced to imprisonment and ordered to pay restitution of $1,306,608.72. Catherine filed for divorce and for bankruptcy. Catherine entered an appearance as an interested person in Henricks’s criminal case. The district court found that Henricks had defaulted on his restitution payments and that the divorce was a sham, then determined the parties’ interests in properties so that Henricks’s property could be directed toward restitution. The Seventh Circuit vacated. The court had jurisdiction under the Fair Debt Collection Procedures Act to decide the parties’ property interests in Henricks’s criminal case and did not violate Catherine’s due process rights. The court, however, improperly relied upon post‐judgment conduct instead of determining the parties’ property interests as of the date of the judgment lien. Whether the divorce was a sham was relevant to whether Henricks’s defaulted on restitution, but is irrelevant to the parties’ ownership interests on the judgment date. View "Henricks v. United States" on Justia Law

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Henricks owned a towing business, an auto body shop, and a vehicle dealership, which he used to defraud insurance companies by filing fraudulent claims. Henricks’s wife, Catherine, worked at the companies sporadically and was an officer of two of them and a member of the other. She opened bank accounts and signed loan documents on behalf of the companies. Henricks pleaded guilty to mail fraud and immediately began to hide assets. He was sentenced to imprisonment and ordered to pay restitution of $1,306,608.72. Catherine filed for divorce and for bankruptcy. Catherine entered an appearance as an interested person in Henricks’s criminal case. The district court found that Henricks had defaulted on his restitution payments and that the divorce was a sham, then determined the parties’ interests in properties so that Henricks’s property could be directed toward restitution. The Seventh Circuit vacated. The court had jurisdiction under the Fair Debt Collection Procedures Act to decide the parties’ property interests in Henricks’s criminal case and did not violate Catherine’s due process rights. The court, however, improperly relied upon post‐judgment conduct instead of determining the parties’ property interests as of the date of the judgment lien. Whether the divorce was a sham was relevant to whether Henricks’s defaulted on restitution, but is irrelevant to the parties’ ownership interests on the judgment date. View "Henricks v. United States" on Justia Law

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Springfield’s zoning code allows “family care residence[s],” defined as: A single dwelling unit occupied on a relatively permanent basis in a family-like environment by a group of no more than six unrelated persons with disabilities, plus paid professional support staff provided by a sponsoring agency either living with the residents on a 24-hour basis or present whenever residents with disabilities are present. Such residences must be “located upon a zoning lot which is more than 600 feet from the property line of any other such facility.” IAG is a non-profit organization that provides services in Community Integrated Living Arrangements in residences rented by disabled clients. The Noble home, in a Springfield residential district that allows family care residences, resembles other neighborhood dwellings. After its owners completed significant renovations, three disabled individuals moved into the Noble home. Unbeknownst to the owners, IAG, or its clients, Sparc had been operating a family care residence across the street for 12 years. The property lines are separated by 157 feet. The city notified the owners that the Noble residents would be evicted unless they obtained a Conditional Permitted Use. Their application was denied. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the entry of a preliminary injunction to prevent eviction, finding that plaintiffs possessed a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits in their suit under the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601–31, Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101–213, and the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 794(a). View "Valencia v. City of Springfield" on Justia Law

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Timothy and Belva Thorpe bought an Illinois house as joint tenants in 1987. They lived in that home until after Belva filed for divorce in October 2012. Timothy filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2013. A month later, an Illinois divorce court awarded Belva the marital home. At the moment Belva filed for divorce, section 503(e) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act granted Timothy and Belva contingent rights in the entire house. The bankruptcy estate acquired Timothy’s half-interest in the marital home at the moment he declared bankruptcy. The district court held that Timothy’s estate took his half-interest subject to Belva’s contingency so that the divorce court’s award divested the estate of any right to the house. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting the trustee’s argument based on the second sentence of section 503(e), which provides that contingent interests in marital property “shall not encumber that property so as to restrict its transfer, assignment or conveyance.” The plain statutory text demonstrates that the bankruptcy estate took Timothy’s half-interest in the marital home subject to Belva’s contingent interest. View "Reinbold v. Thorpe" on Justia Law

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A “pickle line” processes hot rolled steel coil through acid tanks to remove impurities. In 2006, Toll purchased a used pickle line, in need of repair. Kastalon had previously serviced the machine. In 2008, Kastalon agreed to move and store the machine, at no cost, until Toll could order reconditioning. Both parties believed that Toll would move the equipment within months; they did not discuss a specific timeframe. For two years, Kastalon stored the equipment indoors. Toll negotiated with various companies, to run or sell the equipment, but was not in communication with Kastalon. Kastalon eventually greased and wrapped the equipment before moving it to outside storage under tarps. Toll employees with whom Kastalon had communicated were laid off. Kastalon thought that Toll had gone out of business and that the equipment had been abandoned. Kastalon had the equipment scrapped, without inspecting it, and received $6,380.80. In June 2011, Toll requested a price for reconditioning and learned that they had been scrapped. Toll obtained quotes for replacement: the lowest was about $416,655. Toll sued. The Seventh Circuit reversed, in part, summary judgment entered in favor of Kastalon. A reasonable jury could conclude that Toll’s prolonged silence, alone, did not constitute unambiguous evidence of intent to abandon. The court did not consider whether Kastalon had an extra-contractual duty not to dispose of the equipment or Kastalon’s evidence that the loss was not due to Kastalon’s failure to exercise reasonable care. Affirming rejection of a contract claim, the court stated the parties’ oral agreement was not sufficiently definite as to duration. View "Toll Processing Services, LLC v. Kastalon, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) are federally-chartered, privately-owned corporations, created by Congress to bolster the housing market. In 2008, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) was appointed as conservator for both. Both purchase mortgages from third-party lenders, bundle them and sell mortgage-backed securities. When a borrower defaults, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac forecloses and takes title to the property securing the loan, for sale to a private buyer. In 2013-2014, the buyers purchased Chicago property from Fannie Mae. Chicago imposes a Real Property Transfer Tax on the purchaser. The supplemental “CTA portion” of the transfer tax is paid by the transferor, unless the transferor is legally exempt, in which case the transferee is held responsible. The Illinois Department of Finance ruled that each buyer was liable for the tax. The district court held that the tax was preempted by the federal exemption statutes. The Seventh Circuit reversed. In 2013, the Seventh Circuit held that state and local taxing authorities could not charge Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or FHFA with transfer taxes because such taxes are preempted by federal laws exempting these entities from all taxation, but that reasoning does not apply when the tax is imposed on the purchaser. View "Federal National Mortgage Association v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law