Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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The claims brought by the City of Eagle Grove alleging two properties owned by Cahalan Investments, LLC were abandoned and in an advanced state if disrepair and praying for a transfer of ownership from Cahalan to the City under Iowa Code 657A.10A fit within the public-nuisance exception recognized in Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 505 U.S. 1003 (Iowa 1992), and did not result in a taking requiring compensation to Cahalan. The district court dismissed the City’s petitions seeking ownership of the properties at issue in this case, concluding that the transfer of ownership without just compensation to Cahalan would constitute an unconstitutional taking. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that transfer of title to the two properties under section 657A.10A would not constitute a taking under the circumstances presented in this case, and therefore, there was no constitutional requirement of just compensation. View "City of Eagle Grove, Iowa v. Cahalan Investments, LLC" on Justia Law

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The owner of a railroad right-of-way filed a petition for certiorari challenging a district court order finding it in contempt for violating a 1977 judgment imposing an injunction against a previous owner of the right-of-way. Specifically, the district court found the subsequent owner in contempt for failing to reconstruct and maintain a dike. The Supreme Court sustained the writ and vacated the decision of the district court, holding the contempt proceeding was an untimely action brought by the drainage district to enforce the 1977 judgment because the 1977 judgment expired under Iowa Code 614.1(6) before this proceeding to enforce it was commenced. View "Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad v. Iowa District Court for Louisa County" on Justia Law

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The district court granted a request for entry of a charging order against a personal guarantor and judgment debtor’s transferable interest in an LLC. The judgment debtor and intervenor filed a motion to quash alleging that multiple levies and garnishments were improper. The district court granted the motion to quash. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the entry of the charging order was proper; but (2) the district court erred in granting the motion to quash because it is proper to have multiple levies and garnishments at the same time so long as they are under a single execution. Remanded. View "DuTrac Community Credit Union v. Hefel" on Justia Law

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The Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) condemned a parcel of Landowner’s property to complete the construction of a highway. The compensation commission awarded Landowner $11,100 for the taking. Landowner filed a petition on appeal, arguing that, as a result of the taking, it could no longer use the remaining property for its business and, therefore, that IDOT’s taking left an uneconomical remnant. Landowner argued that the fair market value of the entire property before the condemnation - and thus the damage for the taking - was $200,000. The district court granted summary judgment for IDOT, concluding that Landowner’s petition was untimely. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Landowner’s uneconomical remnant challenge was untimely, and therefore, the district court did not have the authority to consider that claim. View "Johnson Propane, Heating & Cooling, Inc. v. Iowa Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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DuTrac Community Credit Union owned a parcel of real estate in a commercial development. Kwik Trip, Inc. sought to purchase the property. During due diligence, Kwik Trip discovered that the property was subject to a restrictive covenant that required the approval by an architectural control committee before any building or other structure could be erected. DuTrac and Kwik Trip (Plaintiffs) sought a declaration that the restrictive covenant was unenforceable based on the doctrines of impossibility and supervening impracticability because one of the two members of the architectural control committee was deceased and the other member had eighteen resigned or refused to act on the Committee’s behalf. The district court granted summary judgment for Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the restrictive covenant cannot be enforced as written, and the modification proposed by Defendants was not practical, nor would it be effective to carry out the original purpose of the covenant. View "Dutrac Community Credit Union v. Radiology Group Real Estate, L.C." on Justia Law

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Liberty Bank made five loans to the owner of real property (Property). Liberty Bank and five other banks entered into participation agreements related to the loan. Iowa Great Lakes Holding later defaulted on the loan, and the mortgage was extinguished. After the surrender and foreclosure, Liberty Bank and Central Bank entered into an agreement under which Central Bank acquired assets, including loans, from Liberty Bank. Liberty Bank conveyed the Property to a Central Bank affiliated entity via quitclaim deed. Central Bank then filed a declaratory action against Liberty Bank and the five participating banks seeking a ruling that it owned the Property free and clear of any interest of the participating banks. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants, concluding that, under the participation agreements, Central Bank did not own the property in fee simple because Liberty Bank did not sell Central Bank a one hundred percent interest in the property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ownership interest of the participating banks in the mortgage and underlying collateral was superior to Central Bank, which claimed its interest was derivative of and limited to the interest held by Liberty Bank. View "Central Bank v. Hogan" on Justia Law

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For twenty-four years, Tenants lived on property owned by Owners. Tenants kept one horse on the property. Owners later served Tenants with a thirty-day notice seeking to terminate Tenants’ tenancy. Owners followed up with a three-day notice to quit and a forcible entry and detainer action. In answer, Tenants claimed that they had a farm tenancy and that Owners had not complied with the legal requirements for terminating a farm tenancy. The district court ruled that Owners had complied with the general requirements for terminating a tenancy at will and that Tenants’ decision to graze a single horse on the property was not enough to establish a farm tenancy and trigger the special termination protections of Iowa Code 562.5 through 562.7. The court therefore found that Owners were entitled to removal of Tenants from the premises. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that land which is not devoted primarily to the production of crops or the care and feeding of livestock cannot be the foundation for a chapter 562 farm tenancy. View "Porter v. Harden" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and Defendant were siblings who owned two farm properties as tenants in common. The first tract was located in Butler County and the second tract was located in Hardin County. In 2013, Plaintiff filed separate actions against Defendant in Butler and Hardin counties seeking partition by sale of both tracts. The actions were consolidated for trial. Defendant opposed the proposed partition by sale and urged the court to partition the tracts in kind instead. The district court ultimately ordered the sale of both tracts. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals and affirmed the district court’s judgment, holding that Defendant failed to meet her burden to prove it would be equitable and practicable to partition the tracts in kind. View "Newhall v. Roll" on Justia Law

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The Dyersville City Council voted to rezone the area containing the Field of Dreams movie site from agricultural to commercial in order to facilitate the development of a baseball and softball complex. Community members filed writs of certiorari, arguing (1) since the city council acted in a quasi-judicial function, the city council’s act of passing the ordinances was invalid; and (2) there was sufficient opposition to the rezoning to trigger a unanimous vote of the city council contained in the city code. The district court annulled the writs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the city council acted in its proper legislative function when it rezoned the subject property, and both ordinances were validly passed; and (2) no procedural or substantive errors affected the city council’s rezoning decisions. View "Residential & Agricultural Advisory Committee, LLC v. Dyersville City Council" on Justia Law

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Iowa Arboretum, Inc. and Iowa 4-H Foundation entered into a ninety-nine-year lease agreement for a tract of land owned by the Foundation. The majority of the land is used by the Arboretum as an arboretum. The Foundation served the Arboretum with a notice of termination of tenancy, asserting that the land is agricultural for purposes of Iowa Const. art. I, 24, and that the lease violates the constitutional proscription on agricultural leases exceeding a term of twenty years. In response, the Arboretum filed a petition for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief to establish the validity of the lease. The district court granted declaratory relief to the Arboretum and declared the lease valid, determining that the subject land was not agricultural. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the land at issue is not agricultural land for purses of Iowa Const. art. I, 24, and therefore, the lease is valid and enforceable. View "Iowa Arboretum, Inc. v. Iowa 4-H Foundation" on Justia Law