Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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Sung-Hee Chung (neighbor) appealed the Environmental Division’s grant of summary judgment to Lori and Richard Mathez (applicants). The appeal concerned whether the District Commission exceeded its authority by issuing a second notice for a final Act 250 permit when, due to applicants’ failure, neighbor did not receive notice of the permit before it became final, and neighbor failed to timely appeal. Applicants sought an Act 250 permit to build a 75’ by 100’ steel building for a commercial vehicle repair and body shop, a “minor application” under the Act. Finding that the Environmental Division had jurisdiction over the appeal, and that the District Commission had no authority to issue a second notice of a final permit, the Vermont Supreme Court concluded the court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of applicants. View "In re Mathez Act 250 LU Permit (Sung-Hee Chung, Appellant)" on Justia Law

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Sung-Hee Chung (neighbor) appealed the Environmental Division’s grant of summary judgment to Lori and Richard Mathez (applicants). The appeal concerned whether the District Commission exceeded its authority by issuing a second notice for a final Act 250 permit when, due to applicants’ failure, neighbor did not receive notice of the permit before it became final, and neighbor failed to timely appeal. Applicants sought an Act 250 permit to build a 75’ by 100’ steel building for a commercial vehicle repair and body shop, a “minor application” under the Act. Finding that the Environmental Division had jurisdiction over the appeal, and that the District Commission had no authority to issue a second notice of a final permit, the Vermont Supreme Court concluded the court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of applicants. View "In re Mathez Act 250 LU Permit (Sung-Hee Chung, Appellant)" on Justia Law

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In June 2016, Federal National Mortgage Association (“bank”) filed an eviction action against defendant Marjorie Johnston for property located at 49 Pine Street in Rutland, Vermont. Following entry of a default judgment, the court found that service had not been properly completed and bank conceded to vacating the default judgment. Because the time for service had run, the court dismissed the case without prejudice in November 2016. In March 2017, bank filed this eviction action against defendants Johnston and Kamberleigh Johnston, alleging bank had purchased the property in a foreclosure sale and that defendants were the former mortgagors and current occupants of the property. In June 2017, bank filed a notice of voluntary dismissal, seeking to dismiss the case without prejudice. At that time, defendants had not filed an answer or otherwise appeared in the case. The dismissal was entered on June 23, 2017. On July 10, 2017, Marjorie filed a notice of appearance in the case and a motion to reconsider, arguing that the case should have been dismissed with prejudice due to the dismissal of the prior eviction action. Defendant also asserted that instead of allowing a voluntary dismissal, the court should dismiss the case with prejudice on mootness grounds because bank had sold the property prior to seeking a voluntary dismissal. The trial court denied the motion without a hearing. Defendants appealed. On appeal, defendants argued that because a prior eviction action filed by bank had been dismissed, this case should have been dismissed with prejudice. Defendants also contended the court erred in denying their motion to reconsider without a hearing and not dismissing the case on mootness grounds. The Vermont Supreme Court concluded the effect of the voluntary dismissal was not ripe until a third action was filed and affirmed. View "Federal National Mortgage Association v. Johnston" on Justia Law

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R.E.E. & C. Capital Management Services, Inc. (buyer) appealed a trial court order granting People’s United Bank’s motion to compel buyer to complete the purchase of a foreclosed commercial property. Buyer raised three arguments: (1) it was not a party to the foreclosure sale, and the court therefore lacked jurisdiction to compel it to purchase the property; (2) the trial court erred in declining to apply the statutory remedy; and, (3) the trial court erred in ordering specific performance because an adequate remedy at law exists. After review, the Vermont Supreme Court determined a high bidder’s successful bid in a judicial sale, and the court’s subsequent confirmation of the foreclosure sale pursuant to 12 V.S.A. 4954(a), renders a buyer a limited party such that the court is authorized to issue orders directing the buyer’s action relative to the property’s purchase. The Court found 12 V.S.A. 4954 (e) did not limit the Bank’s remedies: “the legal right to an agreement’s completion does not arise exclusively from Vermont’s foreclosure statutes.” However, the Supreme Court found that while specific performance was a permissible remedy in some instances, the trial court did not engage in the analysis of whether this case was one of those instances. Therefore, the trial court’s order of specific performance was an abuse of its discretion, leading the Supreme Court to reverse and remand this case for the trial court to perform that analysis. View "People's United Bank, NA v. Alana Provencale, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Richard Hayes developed a subdivision called Mountain View Estates on land jointly owned by him and his wife, Nadine Hayes, in the Town of Manchester. The subdivision grew to include forty residential homes, a school building, and a chiropractic clinic on forty-four lots. From the sale of the first lot in about 1981 until his death in 2004, Richard Hayes paid for maintenance and plowing of the roads that ran through the subdivision and maintained the subdivision’s sewer system and the portion of the water system that he and his wife still owned, without charge to the homeowners. Following the Hayes’ deaths in 2004, a probate proceeding was opened and the Hayes’ adult children, Jeffrey Hayes and Deborah Hayes McGraw, were appointed coadministrators of their estates. The co-administrators sent a letter to the homeowners in the subdivision stating that effective immediately, the homeowners would be responsible for maintaining and plowing the subdivision’s roads. The homeowners refused to assume responsibility for the road maintenance. The homeowners intervened in the probate proceedings of the Hayes’ estates to protect their rights regarding the subdivision. The estates appealed the trial court’s decision that the estates were obligated, based on an agreement between the developers and the homeowners, to continue to maintain and repair the roads and water and sewer systems until the town accepted the dedication of the infrastructure. The Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the court’s findings and conclusions, and remanded the matter to the trial court for remand to the probate division for further proceedings. View "Hayes v. Mountain View Estates Homeowners Association" on Justia Law

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In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Richard Hayes developed a subdivision called Mountain View Estates on land jointly owned by him and his wife, Nadine Hayes, in the Town of Manchester. The subdivision grew to include forty residential homes, a school building, and a chiropractic clinic on forty-four lots. From the sale of the first lot in about 1981 until his death in 2004, Richard Hayes paid for maintenance and plowing of the roads that ran through the subdivision and maintained the subdivision’s sewer system and the portion of the water system that he and his wife still owned, without charge to the homeowners. Following the Hayes’ deaths in 2004, a probate proceeding was opened and the Hayes’ adult children, Jeffrey Hayes and Deborah Hayes McGraw, were appointed coadministrators of their estates. The co-administrators sent a letter to the homeowners in the subdivision stating that effective immediately, the homeowners would be responsible for maintaining and plowing the subdivision’s roads. The homeowners refused to assume responsibility for the road maintenance. The homeowners intervened in the probate proceedings of the Hayes’ estates to protect their rights regarding the subdivision. The estates appealed the trial court’s decision that the estates were obligated, based on an agreement between the developers and the homeowners, to continue to maintain and repair the roads and water and sewer systems until the town accepted the dedication of the infrastructure. The Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the court’s findings and conclusions, and remanded the matter to the trial court for remand to the probate division for further proceedings. View "Hayes v. Mountain View Estates Homeowners Association" on Justia Law

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Appellant Sulaiman Jadallah sought reversal of a decision that: (1) denied his request to vacate a settlement agreement between himself, appellee Gabriel Handy, and appellee Sidon Pantry, LLC under Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b); and (2) granted summary judgment in favor of appellee Town of Fairfax and appellee Stacy Wells. In 1994, appellant began operating a restaurant situated on a parcel of real property that he owned. Nine years later in 2003, Handy loaned appellant money. To secure the loan, appellant executed a quitclaim deed for the real property to Handy, which the parties agreed Handy could record should appellant fail to repay Handy. Appellant repaid the loan and thus, Handy did not record the Deed. In 2007, appellant again borrowed money from Handy. Handy agreed to loan appellant money pursuant to terms laid out in a promissory note, which appellant signed. The loan was secured by a second quitclaim deed for the real property to Handy (2007 Deed). The promissory note and the 2007 Deed were signed by appellant and Handy and notarized by Wells. The Deed and note provided that, if appellant failed to make timely repayment of the loan, Handy would again record the 2007 Deed, which would transfer title of the property to Sidon Pantry, Handy’s company. Appellant was incarcerated for an unrelated legal matter and failed to make payments to Handy. He also failed to pay the State of Vermont for rooms and meals taxes. As a result, Handy recorded the 2007 Deed and Wells signed the attestation stamp. Handy filed the Vermont Property Transfer Tax Return (VPTTR) and paid the relevant transfer taxes and back room and meals taxes thereafter. When appellant was released from prison in mid-April 2008, Handy told appellant that he had recorded the quitclaim deed. In April 2008, a mortgagee of the property sent appellant a letter informing him that an unauthorized transfer of the property had occurred in violation with the mortgage’s provisions. In 2010, Handy cleared title to the property by paying off the two mortgages encumbering the property. In 2014, appellant purported to grant an easement in the property to his son. The easement deed referenced the 2007 Deed as a “fraudulent deed” that did not actually convey the property to Handy and his company. Appellant thereafter sued, naming Handy, his business, and the Town and Wells as parties. The trial court dismissed the settled claims; but the case against the Town and Wells continued. Appellant moved for relief from judgment, arguing Handy and his attorney allegedly engaged in fraud when drafting and obtaining appellant’s signature on the settlement documents. The trial court denied appellant’s motion for relief. Finding no reversible error in the denial of relief, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "Jadallah v. Town of Fairfax" on Justia Law

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Respondents Francis and Barbara Supeno, and Barbara Ernst, appealed an order of the Environmental Division imposing a penalty of $27,213 for water and wastewater permit violations. Respondents Francis Supeno and Barbara Supeno were siblings and jointly owned property in Addison. Barbara Supeno and Barbara Ernst lived adjacent to the property. In 2009, the siblings obtained a wastewater system and potable water supply permit, which authorized the replacement of a seasonal cottage with a year-round, one bedroom residence. The permit included the construction of an on-site well and wastewater disposal system. The water supply for the property was provided through a public water system. In 2014 the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) received a complaint of an alleged violation of the wastewater permit. ANR also became aware that the property was advertised as a two-bedroom, two-bathroom rental. An ANR enforcement officer went to the property and Barbara Supeno denied ANR access to the house. The Environmental Division granted ANR’s petition for an access order and ANR received access to the property. During the visit, the enforcement officer observed two water lines entering the basement; the officer also observed the permitted bedroom on the second floor and an additional non-permitted bedroom in the basement. Based on the officer’s observations, an emergency administrative order (EAO) was issued, wherein: (1) respondents failed to obtain a permit before modifying the rental home to add a second bedroom; (2) respondents spliced into the public water supply line serving the adjacent property and connected it to the rental property without obtaining a permit; and (3) respondents created an unapproved cross-connection at the rental property, which allowed it to switch between the well water and the public water system and created a risk that potentially polluted water could contaminate the public water supply. The EAO eventually became an Administrative Order (AO), imposing the penalty at issue here. Respondents argued that their due process rights were violated, the penalty assessment was precluded by res judicata, and the amount of the penalty was excessive. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the Environmental Division. View "Agency of Natural Resources v. Supeno" on Justia Law

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Following a decision from a three-justice panel of the Vermont Supreme Court issued June 26, 2017 involving these parties and this litigation and affirming a final judgment order, the civil division attempted to conduct further hearings as if the matter had been remanded. The Poons challenged continuation of the litigation by the trial court, asserting that, in the absence of an express remand from the Vermont Supreme Court, the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to conduct further hearings. The trial court denied the motion and the Poons were granted permission by the Supreme Court to appeal the denial on an interlocutory basis. The Supreme Court reversed, finding the Poons were correct that the trial court was without jurisdiction to consider this case further and the motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction should have been granted. The judgment rendered June 26th by the Supreme Court did not include a remand, and was final. To remove uncertainty in the event of a future suit between these parties, the Court addressed the Poons’ additional contention that res judicata (also known as claim preclusion), barred the trial court from further consideration of any trespass claim for damages or injunctive relief as a result of the final judgment previously rendered. The final judgment in this case barred relitigation of an alleged trespass by the Poons that was or could have been litigated in this action. “A subsequent suit seeking an injunction or damages from trespass may not be barred, however, if it is based on facts that could not have been addressed in the first litigation because this would amount to a new cause of action.” View "Moyers v. Poon" on Justia Law

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Following a decision from a three-justice panel of the Vermont Supreme Court issued June 26, 2017 involving these parties and this litigation and affirming a final judgment order, the civil division attempted to conduct further hearings as if the matter had been remanded. The Poons challenged continuation of the litigation by the trial court, asserting that, in the absence of an express remand from the Vermont Supreme Court, the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to conduct further hearings. The trial court denied the motion and the Poons were granted permission by the Supreme Court to appeal the denial on an interlocutory basis. The Supreme Court reversed, finding the Poons were correct that the trial court was without jurisdiction to consider this case further and the motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction should have been granted. The judgment rendered June 26th by the Supreme Court did not include a remand, and was final. To remove uncertainty in the event of a future suit between these parties, the Court addressed the Poons’ additional contention that res judicata (also known as claim preclusion), barred the trial court from further consideration of any trespass claim for damages or injunctive relief as a result of the final judgment previously rendered. The final judgment in this case barred relitigation of an alleged trespass by the Poons that was or could have been litigated in this action. “A subsequent suit seeking an injunction or damages from trespass may not be barred, however, if it is based on facts that could not have been addressed in the first litigation because this would amount to a new cause of action.” View "Moyers v. Poon" on Justia Law