A Note From The Legal Helpdesk: Queries From The Field
February 20, 2018
You asked. We answered. Here are some of the questions received and answers provided by the Alabama REALTORS® Legal Helpdesk. We stand ready to assist you. Submit your questions here!
For Sale and not For Rent – Scam on Craigslist
Q: Properties I have listed for sale are popping up for rent on Craigslist. What can I do?
A: Scams are an ongoing struggle for property owners and managers alike. One popular scam is the false rental posted on Craigslist or other websites. These ads come in various form, but essentially, scammers post a for rent ad about a house they do not own or manage, likely after seeing it for sale or rent elsewhere. Potential renters contact the number on the ad and may be scammed into sending security deposits sight unseen.
One way to guard against these scams is to set up a google alert. A google alert allows you to receive an alert when specific topics show up in Google Search. In this way, if someone posts a same rental ad on your property, you will be more likely to know about. The directions to set up a Google Alert can be found here. Basically, go to Google Alerts and enter the address to the property. You will need a google account to receive the emails, and also make sure that the emails are not going to your spam folder by adding firstname.lastname@example.org to your contacts.
Legal Helpdesk Limitations – Contract Disputee
Property Removed After Closing
Q: I represented the buyers in the purchase of a condo. In the contract, the draperies were listed as a property to remain. At final walkthrough, the draperies were still hanging. The contract stated that the seller keep possession for 48 hours after closing. When the buyers took possession, the draperies had been removed. Seller’s agent will not respond. Please advise how I should proceed.
A: This is a question upon which the Legal Helpdesk can provide little information other than recommend the purchaser contact an attorney who can assist them with this matter. This appears to be a breach of contract issue and pursuing legal action is an option, if the purchaser so chooses.
Billboard Agreement – Failure to Build
Q: Several years ago, my client entered into a lease agreement with a twenty-year term for a billboard to be constructed on his property. The person with the sign company developed some health issues, and no progress was made until over a year later, when the Lessee applied and paid for the permit. However, construction has yet to begin and it is unknown if or when the construction will be started, let alone completed. The Lease states that rental will start upon commencement of construction of the sign - it does not specify when the construction will start. No rent has been paid. How can we end this contract?
A: The Legal Helpdesk cannot provide legal advice, but it can provide some information for you. Generally, the provisions of the lease agreement govern, but analysis of these provisions should be done by an attorney who can represent the Client with this specific issue.
Here is some information that may be useful. As contracts, lease agreements are generally binding upon offer by one party and acceptance by the other party. As to termination, lease agreements generally contain termination provisions that would govern when a party or parties desire to terminate the lease. Some build-to-suit lease agreements, or other lease agreements where a build-out is included, contain construction deadlines with specific penalties for failure of the responsible party to comply with a deadline. Where the provisions mentioned above are not present, other factors may come into play, including whether the aggrieved party has demanded the other party begin construction, whether the party responsible for construction has committed fraud in delaying, and whether the delay has caused the aggrieved party to lose revenue if it entered into a lease with another company. For specific analysis, please contact an attorney who can analyze this issue and provide legal advice to the Client.
“Disclaimer: This article provides general information only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created by reading, viewing, opening, or other action related to this article. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. Specific circumstances may change the applicable law or advice a competent individual would provide. In addition, this information is not meant to supplant or in any way replace Errors and Omissions Insurance or other insurance coverage. Mistakes may occasionally be made. Once notified, we will work diligently to correct the issue in a timely manner and mark any updated or changed articles accordingly.”