A property attorney may deal with all aspects of real estate. The majority of a property attorney’s duties can be accomplished without going court. Sometimes, all she needs to do is write a letter stating what has been previous written in a contract, lease, deed, title, or bylaw. Other times, there may be two different interpretations of what a particular phrase in a contract or bylaw means. In those cases, if the matter cannot be settled out of court, a judge may be needed to make a final decision on the meaning behind the point at issue, requiring the property attorney to prepare for trial.
Much of what a property attorney does revolves around ways to transfer property. As a result, she may be hired to write up a contract, deed, will, or trust that will enable other people, particularly the court, to see how the property is meant to transfer. For example, sometimes a piece of property is owned by a person only if particular obligations are followed. For example, the land may be owned by a city, as long as the city makes the land available for dogs running off-leash. If the city prevents dogs from running off-leash, then the land may be returned back to the original owners or their family members.
From time to time, someone needs a property attorney to ensure that the land transaction is legal. For example, it is possible to have a fraudulent contract of sale. In addition, property owners are required to disclose defects before they sell. If people purchase real estate without receiving full disclosure from the previous owners, it could lead to a legal battle.
Many times, a property attorney also will instruct a home owner or a tenant on issues covered by landlord-tenant laws. For example, the attorney may need to make sure tenants are selected according to discrimination and fair housing laws in some areas. For example, if a landlord lets the property become inhabitable, the tenant may be able to sue the landlord. Also, if a tenant does not maintain a piece of real estate according to the lease, the landlord may be able to sue the tenant.
One of the most common duties of a property lawyer is to enforce or fight regulations set up through home owners associations and zoning laws. For example, a home owners association may ask a lawyer to enforce a particular bylaw that has been ignored by a home owner. In the alternative, the lawyer may attempt to fight the association on behalf of a homeowner, if the bylaw is only enforced on some of the homeowners or if it causes an extreme hardship on the owner of the property.