Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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The issue this case presented for the Georgia Supreme COurt's review centered on whether the contract involved in this case between the City of Atlanta and a private business for the lease of retail concession space at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport created a taxable interest subject to ad valorem taxation by Clayton County. The City of Atlanta owned the Airport, which was partially in Clayton County outside the City’s boundaries. Appellee Aldeasa Atlanta Joint Venture entered into the written agreement with the City to lease space on two different concourses at the Airport for the non-exclusive rights to operate two duty free retail stores. Appellant Clayton County Board of Tax Assessors (“County”) issued real property tax assessments to Aldeasa for the 2011 and 2012 tax years on Aldeasa’s purported leasehold improvements on the two parcels involved in the Concessions Agreement and also on Aldeasa’s purported possessory interest in the two parcels. Aldeasa appealed the assessments and paid the tax pending the outcome of the appeal. The trial court found the Concessions Agreement created a usufruct interest in the property, and not an estate in real property; it rejected the County’s assertion that it was legally authorized to impose a property tax on usufructs located at the Airport; and it also rejected the County’s assertion that the Concessions Agreement created a taxable franchise. Accordingly, the trial court granted Aldeasa’s motion for summary judgement and denied the motion filed by the County. The County appealed, asserting four different taxable interests were created by the Concessions Agreement. The Supreme Court disagreed with the State's assertions and affirmed the trial court. View "Clayton County Bd. of Assessors v. Aldeasa Atlanta Joint Venture" on Justia Law

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The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to decide whether a locked entry door to a homeowner’s residence provided sufficient notice to a would-be trespasser that he or she is forbidden from entering the premises. The Court of Appeals held that David Harper, a bail recovery agent, could not be found guilty of trespass under OCGA 16-7-21(b)(2) as a matter of law after he entered the residence of Tina McDaniel through a locked door from her backyard without McDaniel’s knowledge or permission to arrest Stephen Collier, a man whose criminal bond had been forfeited. Harper gained access to the residence by either reaching his hand through a doggy door attached to the larger locked door and unlocking it, or crawling through the doggy door to do so. Collier did not live at the house, and was there only to work on a vehicle. Harper was a stranger to McDaniel, as he had not been given any access to McDaniel’s home on any prior occasion and had no prior relationship with her. The Court of Appeals concluded that, because a finding of guilt under OCGA 16-7-21(b)(2) “requires proof that the accused entered [the premises in question] knowingly and without authority after having received express notice that the entry was forbidden,” and because “[t]he State failed to produce any evidence showing that Harper was given the required prior express notice not to enter McDaniel’s premises,” Harper could not be found guilty of criminal trespass under the statute. The Supreme Court concluded that the locked door to the residence provided reasonable and sufficiently explicit notice to Harper that entry into McDaniel’s residence was forbidden under the circumstances of this case, and as such, reversed. View "Georgia v. Harper" on Justia Law

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The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to decide whether a locked entry door to a homeowner’s residence provided sufficient notice to a would-be trespasser that he or she is forbidden from entering the premises. The Court of Appeals held that David Harper, a bail recovery agent, could not be found guilty of trespass under OCGA 16-7-21(b)(2) as a matter of law after he entered the residence of Tina McDaniel through a locked door from her backyard without McDaniel’s knowledge or permission to arrest Stephen Collier, a man whose criminal bond had been forfeited. Harper gained access to the residence by either reaching his hand through a doggy door attached to the larger locked door and unlocking it, or crawling through the doggy door to do so. Collier did not live at the house, and was there only to work on a vehicle. Harper was a stranger to McDaniel, as he had not been given any access to McDaniel’s home on any prior occasion and had no prior relationship with her. The Court of Appeals concluded that, because a finding of guilt under OCGA 16-7-21(b)(2) “requires proof that the accused entered [the premises in question] knowingly and without authority after having received express notice that the entry was forbidden,” and because “[t]he State failed to produce any evidence showing that Harper was given the required prior express notice not to enter McDaniel’s premises,” Harper could not be found guilty of criminal trespass under the statute. The Supreme Court concluded that the locked door to the residence provided reasonable and sufficiently explicit notice to Harper that entry into McDaniel’s residence was forbidden under the circumstances of this case, and as such, reversed. View "Georgia v. Harper" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Georgia Supreme Court’s review centered on the proper statutory interpretation of the Recreational Property Act, OCGA 51-3-20 et seq. (RPA), which shields from potential liability landowners who “either directly or indirectly invite[] or permit[] without charge any person to use the[ir] property for recreational purposes.” Willie and Kristy Harris, along with their six-year-old daughter, Riley, attended a youth football game in 2012 at the Garden City Stadium, a facility owned and maintained by the City of Garden City. Willie and Kristy each paid the required $2 admission fee for spectators over the age of six. However, because Riley was only six years old, the Harrises were not required to pay an entrance fee for her, and Riley was admitted to the event free of charge. At one point during the game, while Riley was walking across the bleachers to return to her seat after visiting the concession stand, she slipped and fell between the bench seats and suffered serious injuries after falling to the ground nearly thirty feet below. The Harrises sued the City to recover for Riley’s injuries, and the City moved for summary judgment, relying on the immunity provided by the RPA. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to determine whether the Court of Appeals erred in concluding that a landowner would not be shielded from potential liability by the RPA where that landowner charged a fee to some people who used the landowner’s property for recreational purposes, but did not charge any fee to the injured party who used the property for such purposes. The Court determined that because the plain language of the RPA shielded a landowner from potential liability under the circumstances presented here, the Court of Appeals erred in concluding otherwise. View "Mayor & Alderman of Garden City v. Harris" on Justia Law

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In 2011, Georgia Trust Bank secured a judgment against Virgil Lovell for $1.2 million. The next year, Georgia Trust failed, and its assets went into receivership with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which later sold the judgment to Community & Southern Bank. When CSB was unable to collect the full amount of the judgment, it discovered a number of recent transactions in which Lovell and his companies had conveyed their respective interests in properties that, CSB believed, otherwise would have been available to satisfy the judgment. In 2015, CSB filed a lawsuit against Lovell, his wife, and several of his companies, asserting claims under the Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act (UFTA) to set aside those conveyances as fraudulent transfers. The trial court dismissed some of those claims on the ground that they did not state claims upon which relief might properly be granted. After reviewing the transfers, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed in part, and reversed in part. The Court found that trial court erred when it dismissed a claim under the UFTA against Lovell, his wife, and Ankony Land, LLC, relating to property in Habersham County: the trial court rested its dismissal of the claim upon the time bar of former OCGA 18-2-79 (1), and did not consider the other grounds asserted by Lovell, his wife, and Ankony Land for dismissing the claim. The trial court reasoned that former Section 18-2-79 (1) was a statute of repose, not a statute of limitation, and the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) did not, it concluded, preempt statutes of repose. CSB contended that this conclusion was in error, and with that contention, the Supreme Court agreed. The Court reversed the trial court on this point, affirmed in all other respects, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Community & Southern Bank v. Lovell" on Justia Law

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Thomas McBee and his wife Mary (the “McBees”) and Aspire at West Midtown Apartments, L.P. (“Aspire”) were adjoining landowners. The McBees claimed title by prescription to a rectangular strip of land measuring about 24 feet by 58 feet located on a lot to which Aspire held record title. Aspire used this lot and several adjoining properties it owned to develop an apartment complex, thereby depriving the McBees of the use of it. The McBees sued Aspire, and the trial court granted Aspire’s motion for summary judgment on the McBees’ adverse possession claim. Two appeals followed. After review, the Georgia Supreme Court: (1) summarily affirmed the trial court’s order denying Aspire’s motion to dismiss the McBees’ appeal for delay in filing the record appendix; and (2) found that the trial court record did not reflect evidence conclusively rebutting the presumption that the McBee’s had a good faith claim of right to the disputed area. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the order granting summary judgment to Aspire on the McBees’ adverse possession claim, and remanded the case for the trial court to consider Aspire’s other arguments for summary judgment. View "McBee v. Aspire at West Midtown Apartments, L.P." on Justia Law

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Kammerer Real Estate Holdings, LLC owned a lot on which it wanted to construct an automotive service facility. Kammerer applied for a site development permit. The lot was subject to a zoning condition under the Forsyth County Unified Development Code that certain “open space” on the lot remain undeveloped. The Director of the Forsyth County Department of Planning and Community Development concluded that the proposed construction would not comply with this condition, and so, he refused to issue a site development permit. Kammerer then asked the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners to amend the zoning condition, but the Board declined to do so. At that point, Kammerer filed this lawsuit against the County, the Board, and the Director, alleging that the Director had misconstrued the “open space” condition, and if it actually meant what the Director said it meant, it was unconstitutional in several respects. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The trial court granted the motion in part and denied it in part. Kammerer appealed the dismissal of certain claims, and the defendants cross-appealed the refusal of the trial court to dismiss other claims. The Georgia Supreme Court determined the trial court properly dismissed a claim for attorney fees, but reversed in all other respects, finding the trial court misinterpreted the controlling caselaw that governed this case, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Kammerer Real Estate Holdings, LLC v. Forsyth County Bod. of Comm'rs" on Justia Law

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The parties to this appeal were an unmarried couple. Appellant Adam Vargo purchased the real property in which the parties formerly resided in his own name as sole owner, and executed a purchase money mortgage on it. Shortly thereafter, Vargo executed a warranty deed conveying the property to himself and appellee Brittany Adams as joint tenants with the right of survivorship. The couple broke up and Vargo filed a claim for equitable partition. Vargo testified at trial that he contributed the down payment to purchase the property and nearly all the mortgage payments made on the loan, and claimed that an inequity existed, requiring equitable partition of the property, due to the disparity of funds he paid toward the purchase of the property compared to that paid by Adams. The trial court found equitable partition was not an available remedy to parties who hold property as joint tenants with right of survivorship except in actions for divorce. In the order denying Vargo’s petition for equitable partition, the trial judge advised Vargo that he could sever the joint tenancy and then seek either a statutory partition under OCGA 44-6-160, or equitable partition if no sufficient remedy at law existed. The order also granted Vargo certain of his claims for conversion of items of personal property retained by Adams, but denied Vargo’s claim for attorney fees. Vargo filed this appeal, but finding no error in the trial court’s judgment, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Vargo v. Adams" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a trial court order quieting title in favor of TDGA, LLC. Appellant Peter Mancuso argued, inter alia, that he did not receive proper notice from TDGA regarding the foreclosure of his right of redemption. After review of the trial court record, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the evidence showed TDGA met its burden as required by OCGA 48-4-45(a)(2) by sending notices to Mancuso's known addresses via certified mail. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the trial court's order. View "Mancuso v. TDGA, LLC" on Justia Law

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Lowell and Janice Register were shareholders of Register Communications, Inc. Green Bull Georgia Partners, LLC threatened to foreclose on property that had been pledged to secure the debts of Register Communications. The Registers sued Green Bull. In connection with their lawsuit, the Registers sought an interlocutory injunction to prohibit any foreclosure pending final judgment. At first, the trial court provisionally granted some injunctive relief, but after further consideration, it concluded that an injunction pending final judgment was not warranted, and it set aside the injunction that it previously had entered. The Registers appealed the order setting aside the interlocutory injunction, and they asked the trial court for an injunction at least to prohibit any foreclosure pending the resolution of their appeal. The trial court granted an injunction pending appeal, and in this case, Green Bull appealed the entry of that injunction. The Georgia Supreme Court found no abuse of discretion in the grant of the injunction, and affirmed the trial court. View "Green Bull Partners, LLC v. Register" on Justia Law