Lease and Real Estate Disputes

Overview

The right to own, use, and possess land is one of the basic tenets of our society. Unfortunately, disputes sometimes arise between the various parties who have an interest in the same piece of property, or between neighboring properties. These disputes often involve significant investments and emotional attachments by the parties, making such disputes challenging to resolve. Hull Barrett has extensive experience representing parties in regard to real estate and lease disputes. Subject areas include:

  • Sale and Lease Disputes;
  • Storm Water Runoff Damage Claims;
  • Interpretation of Leases and Sales Contracts;
  • Dispossessory Actions;
  • Rent Collection;
  • Foreclosures and Deficiency Actions;
  • Personal Guaranty Issues Related to Loans;
  • Disputes over Priority of Secured Positions;
  • Title Insurance Coverage;
  • Nuisance, Trespass, and Inverse Condemnation Claims;
  • Commission Fee Disputes;
  • Liens of Parties Providing Labor and Material to Construction Projects;
  • Condemnations (Eminent Domain);
  • Partitions of Property; and
  • Valuation Issues.

Importance of Lease and Real Estate Dispute Law

Real estate touches upon many of the most fundamental relationships we have. Where we live, where we work, and the activities we conduct are all governed by a series of laws that regulate the right to access and use real estate. Our goal is to help each client identify the options that exist for any real estate dispute, and to determine the most appropriate and cost-effective manner in which to accomplish the client’s goals.

Representative Clients

  • Commercial and Industrial Property Owners;
  • Apartment Complexes;
  • Shopping Centers;
  • Residential Property Owners;
  • Commercial and Residential Tenants;
  • Utility Companies;
  • Banks and Lending Institutions;
  • Secured Parties;
  • Contractors, Subcontractors, Materialmen and Suppliers; and
  • Governmental Entities.

Notable Litigation

  •  Latson vs HSBC Bank, USA, 2006-RCCV-00749.
  • Cynergy, LLC vs First American Title Insurance Company, No. 12-10495, 2013 WL 309052 (11th Cir. Jan. 28, 2013). This case concerned a title insurance policy issued in regard to the purchase of land-locked acreage which was planned for development. The plaintiff brought suit against the title company, asserting a claim for approximately three quarters of a million dollars. The federal district trial court, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, agreed with our argument that the lack of access was an assumed condition for which no coverage existed and thus there was no liability under the title insurance policy.
  • First American Title Insurance Company and Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund vs E.J. Boswell & Associates, P.C. and E.J. Boswell, Civil 10-CV-579.
  • Wells Fargo N.A. v. Mendieta; US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Georgia. This case involved filing an adversary proceeding in bankruptcy court against joint debtors seeking reformation of contract, declaratory judgment and equitable subrogation related to defects contained in the legal description of the security deed which Wells Fargo sought to foreclose. Court ruled in our favor and reformed the deed.
  • TBA Construction, LLC v. Holdings of Evans, LLC. U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Georgia. This case involved proceedings in Bankruptcy Court to determine the validity, extend and priority of a lien. I represented a construction company that performed site work and by operation of law had a lien that arose prior to the recording of the security deed of the lender. Our client ultimately prevailed in having its lien enforced.
  • Tomberlin Holdings v. Estate of Wisenieski; Superior Court of Columbia County. This case involved a quiet title action where a deed was lacking in the chain of title. Defendant transferred interests in two parcels of property to Plaintiff by security deed, but Defendant never obtained fee simple ownership of both parcels as required in a divorce decree. The Court ruled in our favor and determined that defendants had no interest in the property at question.
  • USAA Federal Savings Bank v. Magnolia State Bank. This matter involved a title insurance claim in which we represented the Plaintiff/subsequent lender in stopping the defendant from proceeding with an improper foreclosure through injunctive relief where a security deed given to the defendant bank misidentified the property transferred as collateral for the underlying loan and the defendant bank attempted to foreclose on the wrong property. We prevailed and the Defendant withdrew the foreclosure and acknowledged its lack of interest and priority in the property in question.
  • Pennymac Loan Services v. Estate of Taylor et al.; Superior Court of Richmond County. This case involves a petition to quiet title, deed reformation, equitable subrogation and declaratory relief. This case involves an owner who died intestate with a spouse and two adult children, who inherited the deceased’s half interest equally. The property was subsequently transferred by the surviving spouse only. This action resolves the lack of conveyance of the two adult children’s interests in the property.
  • Numerous cases (both reported and unreported) representing property owners in eminent domain negotiations and condemnation lawsuits over several decades.
  • Numerous cases representing condemning authorities (such as Columbia County, Georgia and various utility companies) in acquiring land for public purposes over several decades.

Other Representation

Represented scores of property owners and businesses whose land was slated for acquisition or condemnation by the Georgia Department of Transportation, local governments, or other entities, to arrive at mutually-agreed upon resolutions; changes to engineering plans to accommodate the client; or litigation to obtain just and adequate compensation for the property taken.

  • Represented condemning authorities in obtaining title to properties and in resolving eminent domain disputes.
  • Successfully obtained modification of financing and title deeds in adversary proceeding in Southern District of Georgia Bankruptcy Court.
  • Pursues title insurance claims that are resolved in litigation, including issues arising from defective title issues to fraudulent title claims.
  • Resolved commercial lease issues related to tenant and landlord issues and restrictive covenants.
  • Represented title insurance company in obtaining defense judgment in claim in excess of $600,000 by developer related to title insurance defect.
  • Represented lenders in filing suit and foreclosing on 5 million dollar construction project related to construction of hotel in Augusta.
  • Represented a local financial institution in obtaining reformation of security deeds in connection with a multi-million dollar construction loan to gain priority over a million dollar tax lien and successfully avoiding tax lien through foreclosure proceedings.
  • Represents largest title insurance company in all aspects of title litigation, from defending wrongful foreclosures to clearing title defects through court proceedings.
  • Obtained Deed of Correction to correct errors in the legal description.
  • Performed research resulting in denial of claim.
  • Obtained and recorded an Amendment to the Security Deed to correct errors in the legal description and successfully negotiated an agreement with the insured lender and the borrowers to avoid foreclosure.
  • Represented lenders in many commercial foreclosure cases with a variety of issues that need to be resolved such as priority disputes, equitable subrogation claims, legal description errors, deed and mortgage reformations, fraudulent execution, and fraudulent conveyances.
  • Represented commercial property owner in action to dissolve covenants.
  • Represented parties in quiet title actions including matters relating to removing cloud on title due to a missing heir, involving a boundary line dispute for a leasehold interest in timber rights, and arising from claim of unpaid brokerage commission.
  • Obtained a Declaratory Judgment Reformation and Equitable Relief on behalf of the title insurance company’s insured.
  • Filed Petition for Deed Reformation and Equitable Subrogation to encumber all the owners’ interest by the Insured’s Security Deed.
  • Defended the title company in a claim involving a right of access by obtaining a summary judgment in favor of the title company; affirmed on appeal.
  • Negotiated an agreement to dismiss a lawsuit involving the title company and one of its agents.
  • Counseled defendant bank against counterclaim by borrower and foreclosed upon property and obtained judgment of $3 million in favor of the bank.
  • Defended insured bank in litigation filed by Georgia Airport Authority in which it sought to set aside a mortgage securing a $1.2 million note based upon constitutional limitations of the Authority’s power to mortgage property, fraud and conflict of interest transactions.
  • Represented buyers in insured title dispute where the plaintiff’s claimed title to the property because certain deeds of gift in the title chain were allegedly forged and should be considered void.
  • Represented numerous subcontractors, general contractors and material providers through filing and foreclosing on mechanic’s/materialman’s liens, which involved disputes related to priority, validity and extent of liens.
  • Represented landowners in abandonment actions necessary to obtain clear title to land from the County.
  • Represented owners in multiple boundary line disputes.
  • Represented owners in multiple easement disputes.
  • Represented lenders in priority of interest disputes.
  • Represented landowners in multiple contested partition actions.