Houston Lawyers With Numerous Real Estate Litigation Successes

With over 55 years of combined experience, the Houston-based attorneys at Burford Perry LLP have represented both plaintiffs and defendants in real estate disputes, obtaining successful outcomes for clients in a wide variety of cases for both individuals and companies. For example, in AIG Highstar Capital, L.P. v Stagecoach Holding, LLC, et al., Robert Burford represented John Thrash, E Partners, and E Corp in a dispute over the ownership of a high-performance, multi-cycle natural gas storage facility in New York. AIG claimed a “Control Flip” had occurred that would have substantially devalued the ownership position of Robert’s clients. The case was uniquely resolved by a sale of the entire storage facility to a third-party, Inergy, L.P., with Robert’s clients obtaining more than $50 million in the sale—preserving their ownership value. Similarly, in Thornton v. Martha Turner Properties, Brent Perry negotiated a favorable confidential settlement for a family that was the victim of real estate fraud by the family’s realtor in connection with the sale of their 12,000 square foot home. The family’s real estate agent made false representations about a prospective buyer and encouraged the family to allow the buyer to lease the house before closing on the purchase. The prospective buyer caused significant damage to the house and failed to close on the purchase.

Because real estate properties are often a person’s or company’s most valuable assets, property owners will need experienced real estate litigation attorneys to protect their interests when a dispute arises. From multimillion-dollar homes to ten-thousand-foot manufacturing facilities, real estate disputes put a lot at stake, and resolving real estate disputes are not simple matters because real estate law is incredibly complex. Burford Perry LLP attorneys are well-versed in the complexities of real estate disputes and regularly handle such cases.

Real Estate Disputes

Real estate disputes can be as simple as a dispute over an easement or as complicated as untangling the ownership of real property in a complex business dispute. Real estate issues can also arise when one or more parties fail to fulfill their end of a real estate agreement. Parties like contractors, property owners, developers, investors, lenders, and others can find themselves entangled in conflict over real property. Some of the most common types of real estate disputes include:

  • Earnest Money Contracts are similar to security deposits. A party interested in purchasing property puts aside a sum of money, generally in a trust or escrow account, as an act of good faith that the party wants to purchase the property before the final details are determined. Once a deposit is made, the seller will take the property off the market, and negotiations to finalize the purchase begin. Disputes frequently arise when a buyer or seller perceives the other to be at fault for failing to close in a timely manner. Additionally, buyers can unknowingly lose their right to the return of earnest money by failing to notify the seller of the failure of a condition to closing, such as securing financing for the transaction, within the time specified in the real estate purchase contract. When the buyer and seller both claim a right to earnest money, the trustee or escrow agent will typically hold the money until the dispute is resolved—which can prove costly in the event litigation becomes necessary.
  • Lender Liability Law generally holds that lenders must treat borrowers fairly. If a lender fails to do so, they can be subject to costly litigation.
  • Lease Disputes occur when one party in a lease agreement feels the other party is not upholding the lease agreement. Things like defects in construction, continuous operation clauses, termination agreements, and others will require a skilled real estate lawyer to resolve.
  • Adverse Possession Disputes arise when the legal ownership of property is in question. Under some circumstances, trespassers can inhabit property and occupy it to gain legal ownership. The law regarding adverse possession is complex, and it will require an attorney to determine whether the proper qualifications are met for ownership.
  • Easement Disputes occur between two parties: (1) the property owner and (2) an individual or group who has a right to use or access the property for some purpose.
  • Deed Restriction Issues are particularly common in Houston because, unlike most major cities, the real property in the City of Houston is not regulated through zoning. Instead, most restrictions on Houston real estate arise through deed restrictions, which restrict or prohibit certain uses or activities on a particular property or set of properties.[1] Deed restrictions are recorded with the county in which the property is located and remain in force even after the property is transferred to a new owner, and new owners are frequently deemed to have notice of the restrictions regardless of their actual knowledge. Although deed restrictions are distinct from homeowners’ association or condo association covenants, they are similar in application. In fact, many deed restrictions are imposed, initiated, and enforced by homeowners’ associations.[2] While deed restrictions can be enforced by individuals and associations, the Texas Legislature and Houston City Council have also authorized city attorneys to bring enforcement actions against property owners.
  • Construction Litigation most commonly occurs when parties involved in large or small building projects disagree over the terms or whether the terms have been adequately fulfilled. There can be many parties involved in construction litigation, so it is important not to handle construction disputes on your own.
  • Partition Litigation is sometimes necessary to divide jointly owned property among owners. Such a need frequently arises when owners of real estate disagree on the property’s use. When the parties cannot agree, a partition action may be necessary. Through a suit to partition, one or more joint owners can seek a court-ordered division of the property.[3] Judicial partition can be in kind, meaning the property is physically divided among the owners, or by sale, whereby the court orders the sale of the property and a division of the proceeds among the owners when partition in kind is not feasible or cannot be achieved fairly and equitably. For example, partition by sale is usually necessary when the dispute relates to a typical single-family residence, but partition in kind is well-suited for large tracts of land. In addition to unique—and costly—procedural requirements,[4] a suit to partition may give rise to ancillary issues such as an accounting for rents and profits or for expenditures for maintenance and improvements to the property, such as mortgage payments, insurance, or taxes.
  • Government Takings and Inverse Condemnation Laws are implicated when the government performs an intentional act that results in a taking of a property owner’s property for public use, such as flood control or road construction.[5] Article I, section 17 of the Texas Constitution guarantees that “no person’s property shall be taken, damaged, or destroyed or applied for public use without adequate compensation.” With this constitutional prohibition on improper interference with an owner’s rights, sovereign and governmental immunity do not apply, and an injured property owner need only prove that the government’s intentional taking materially and substantially impaired or burdened the owner’s property or the use and enjoyment of the property.[6]

Much of real estate law is guided by local ordinances and state law regarding property rights, transactions, and the obligations of landlords and their tenants. However, organizations like homeowners’ associations might also have legal grounds in real estate disputes. Because of the number of moving parts, resolving real estate disputes successfully will require experienced attorneys with a track record of success.

Resolving Real Estate Disputes

It is never too soon to involve a lawyer in a real estate dispute; however, a delay can be costly. Many disputes can be resolved in early stages; however, real estate disputes can escalate out of control quickly.

There is no one size fits all approach to real estate litigation. Each dispute will require a thorough investigation and creative thinking to determine the most efficient way to reach a resolution. Some disputes can be resolved through mediation, but others will require litigation. Because real estate disputes often involve highly valued property, it is important to take the right approach when seeking a resolution.

The attorneys at Burford Perry LLP have obtained substantial verdicts and settlements for clients both outside of court and through court proceedings. We use our extensive experience to determine the best course of action for each unique situation.

Real Estate Litigation Attorneys

Many real estate disputes present unique challenges and diverse issues that require specific expertise. Successful outcomes begin with extensive knowledge and experience like that possessed by the attorneys at Burford Perry LLP. We have represented contractors, property owners, real estate developers, investors, lessors, and lenders in a wide variety of real estate disputes, including both individuals and large businesses in residential and commercial real estate litigation. By analyzing the unique aspects of each case, the attorneys at Burford Perry LLP can identify the most efficient path to a favorable outcome for our clients. If you or your business is in need of lawyers with the experience and prior success rate necessary to resolve your real property dispute, contact us to learn about your options in a consultation.

[1] Uptegraph v. Sandalwood Civic Club, 312 S.W.3d 918, 925 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2010, no pet.).

[2] See, e.g., Tarr v. Timberwood Park Owners Ass’n Inc., 510 S.W.3d 725, 727 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2016, pet. granted).

[3] See Tex. Prop. Code §§ 22.001 et seq.

[4] See Tex. R. Civ. P. 756–771.

[5] State v. Holland, 221 S.W.3d 639, 643 (Tex. 2007).

[6] Waddy v. City of Houston, 834 S.W.2d 97, 102 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1992, writ denied).