Real Estate Law
Buying & Selling a Home
When owners decide to sell, they generally contact a real estate broker who lists the house for sale. Once a buyer selects that home to purchase, the buyer will make a formal offer secured by a deposit. If the owner accepts the price offered, a contract is drawn up by the buyer’s realtor and both parties sign it. Both parties should have an attorney already lined up to review the contract: remember it is a standard contract drawn up by a realtor; both parties may want to make changes. There is only a 3 business day window in which to have an attorney review the contract and request changes.
Once the revisions are made and agreed to, or if no amendments are requested within the 3-day period, the buyers are now obligated to perform the requirements dictated by the contract. As a general rule, they must immediately apply for a mortgage and should schedule a home inspection that looks for potential problems including any evidence of wood destroying insects, such as termites.
Both the buyer and seller need to be sure they satisfy all the legal requirements in a timely manner and that they have another pair of (legal) eyes on all the important documents including: mortgage commitments, title searches, surveys and home inspection reports. If any issues arise, I will take the appropriate next step to clear up outstanding liens or negotiate to have the buyer make repairs or give a price modification against flaws reported in the home inspection report.
Prior to closing and at the closing, I will explain the process, review all of the documents with you, and make sure that all the necessary documents are fully and accurately prepared and properly filed to insure a smooth closing without any surprises. Once all the papers are signed, the deed and funds transferred, both parties are ready to start their new lives.
Before you rent out your property, you need to make sure you have a lease or rental agreement that’s specifically designed to comply with New Jersey law. In the lease or rental agreement, we’ll set out all the key terms of the tenancy: who may occupy the unit, the rent due, and when and how it must be paid. We will also stipulate the amount of the security deposit and how it will be used for damage, cleaning, or unpaid rent. The lease explains your legal right to enter the unit, and your responsibilities for keeping it safe and maintained.
You can also include other terms: for example, restrictions on guests, the pet policy, allowed uses of the property, and policies on late rent and bounced checks. If you haven’t put down your rules and regulations on the lease or a separate document signed by the tenant, they are not legally binding.
Once you find locations you are interested in, ask for copies of the leases as soon as possible. As far as the types of leases, there are gross leases - where the rent is all inclusive, or net leases - which have a lower base rate, but then you are expected to pay some of the operating or maintenance costs. There are a myriad of variations on net leases. I can help you interpret them and negotiate the best deal for your business.
Some of the things to compare are: leased square footage, unit lease price, incremental expenses (including maintenance), and lease term – that is, the number of years. It is important that you understand the entire expense picture before you sign the lease. Important point: As a commercial tenant, you have far less rights than as a residential tenant.
Landlord & Tenant Disputes
Many issues can come up between landlords and tenants. If your tenant is late in payments, has breached a contract, or is illegally subletting his apartment, I can help you resolve these issues. It is important to understand that New Jersey has some of the strongest pro-tenant laws in the country. Tenants have many rights, and both sides must understand what these are and what the consequences may be if these rights are violated.
As mentioned above, I offer lease drafting, review and negotiating services. We can draw up a lease that can help to prevent future disagreements by reducing any questions about the rights and responsibilities of both the property owner and the renter. When a dispute arises, it may not be necessary to pursue litigation, but if it goes to court, I am ready and able to take on your issues and obtain the best possible resolution on your behalf.
Some of the issues I handle include:
Damage to property
Residential and Commercial leases
Appropriate use of common areas
Tenant versus association responsibilities
Compliance with municipal ordinances
Nonpayment of rent