Pennsylvania Eminent Domain lawyer

The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that the city of Marietta violated the Georgia Landowner’s Bill of Rights when it condemned a grocery store without providing a summary of its appraisal to the property owner. The City argued that these provisions were not mandatory. This was rejected by a unanimous Court explaining that the law is “an essential prerequisite to the filing of a petition to condemn,” and that because the city failed to fulfill that prerequisite, its petition to condemn the property must be dismissed.

 

The Louisiana Supreme Court heard oral arguments whether St. Bernard Parish port officials violated Louisiana’s eminent domain laws when they seized a privately run port operation along a mile of Mississippi River frontage in 2010. The property owner argued that port officials were trying to take the property at a bargain price and transfer it to a competitor. Louisiana law provides that “no business enterprise or any of its assets shall be taken for the purpose of operating that enterprise or halting competition with a government enterprise.” The property owner has support from national groups such as the Institute for Justice and the Pacific Legal Foundation. Attorneys for the port argued that Louisiana law specifically singles out ports and airports when it comes to the kind of “public purpose” that justifies eminent domain, citing the need “to facilitate the transport of goods or persons in domestic or international commerce.” The case is on appeal from a 2-1 split decision by a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Federal Reserve Board has issued a statement providing for temporary exception to appraisal requirements in hurricane areas affected by severe storms and flooding related to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Below is that statement:

Responding to widespread damage caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, four federal financial institution regulatory agencies today took action to facilitate the recovery process by temporarily easing appraisal requirements for real estate-related financial transactions in areas declared to be a major disaster.

The agencies will not require financial institutions to obtain appraisals for affected transactions (1) if the properties involved are located in areas declared major disasters; (2) if there are binding commitments to fund the transactions within 36 months of the date the areas were declared major disasters, and (3) if the value of the real properties support the institutions’ decisions to enter into the transactions.

The exceptions apply to transactions in areas of Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and expire three years after the date the president declared each area a major disaster. The exceptions are being made under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) and its implementing regulations.

Financial institutions that use the appraisal exception must maintain information estimating the collateral’s value that sufficiently supports their credit decision to enter into the transaction. The agencies will monitor institutions’ real estate lending practices to ensure the transactions are being originated in a safe and sound banking manner.

 

 

35 appraiser organizations including the Appraisal Institute are asking Congress to prevent Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae from issuing appraisal waivers. Freddie and Fannie recently announced plans to no longer require appraisals for first purchase loans, as well as for mortgage refinancing. In a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and the House Financial Services Committee, the Appraisal Institute wrote: “We recognize that the Enterprises have, since 1994, been exempted from appraisal requirements established by Congress on the basis that their requirements exceeded those established by Congress and that they would continue to make responsible decisions. These new programs call this privilege into question.”

The Appraisal Institute offered some suggestions to Congress and to the FHFA: “At a minimum, the Agency should request the estimates of the number of loan purchase and refinance transactions that would be subject to the new programs and make those estimates public for comment by affected stakeholders and other experts.

In addition to the Appraisal Institute, organizations signing onto the letter to Congress were: American Society of Appraisers; American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers; Appraisers’ Coalition of Washington; Arizona Association of Real Estate Appraisers; Association of Texas Appraisers; California Coalition of Appraisal Professionals; Coalition of Appraisers in Nevada; Coalition of Arizona Appraisers; Colorado Association of Real Estate Appraisers; Columbia Society of Real Estate Appraisers; Delaware Association of Appraisers; Foundation Appraisers Coalition of Texas; Illinois Coalition of Appraisal Professionals; Kentucky Association of Real Estate Appraisers; Louisiana Real Estate Appraiser Coalition; Maryland Association of Appraisers; Massachusetts Board of Real Estate Appraisers; Michigan Coalition of Appraisal Professionals; Mississippi Coalition of Appraisers; National Association of Appraisers; National Association of Independent Fee Appraisers; New York Coalition of Appraiser Professionals; North Carolina Real Estate Appraiser Association; Ohio Coalition of Appraisal Professionals; Oklahoma Professional Appraisers’ Coalition; Real Estate Appraisers Association of California; Real Estate Appraisers of Southern Arizona; Rhode Island Real Estate Appraiser Association; South Carolina Professional Appraisers Coalition; Tennessee Appraiser Coalition; United Appraisers of Utah; Utah Association of Appraisers; Virginia Coalition of Appraiser Professionals; and West Virginia Council of Appraiser Professionals.

 

A bill was introduced in the PA House of Representatives which stating that “in the case of a partial taking of the property of a condemnee, a condemnor may not render the remaining parcel inaccessible to the condemnee by creating a landlocked property with no ingress or egress to or from a public road or highway.” The bill contains an exception in the event the condemnee consents to that taking. The bill, HB 1773, was introduced on September 12, 2017 and was referred to the Committee on State Government.

 

New Jersey has adopted a “property taxpayer bill of rights” seeking to assist property owners with the real estate assessment process. New Jersey has one of the nation’s highest property taxes. Bill A-4007 requires the state division of taxation director to list taxpayers’ real property rights “in simple and nontechnical terms” and post it on the website of the various county tax boards and municipalities in the state. It also provides taxpayers with the “right to understand the calculation of the assessment on their real property, the right to detailed information about how to appeal an assessment of real property and the right to view the real property assessment of any other parcel of real property in the municipality in which the taxpayer’s property is located.”

The Georgia Supreme Court is considering an important case involving the state’s 2006 Landowner’s Bill of Rights statute. At issue is whether certain provisions of that statute are mandatory or merely advisory. The GA appeals court ruled that the City of Marietta violated that statute by not providing the property owner with details of the city’s appraisal of his property. The Landowner’s Bill of Rights says that the condemning authority should give the property owner an opportunity to accompany the appraiser during inspection, and provide the owner with “a written statement of, and summary of the basis for,” the offered amount. Marietta argues that these are not mandatory requirements. Oral argument was done last month.

Oregon has enacted legislation establishing a specific statute of limitations on civil actions against appraisers and appraisal firms for real estate appraisal activity. The law takes applies only to appraisals performed after January 1.  It requires that any civil action against an appraiser or an appraisal firm commence within six years after the date of the “act or omission giving rise to the action.” The limitations will not apply to actions that allege fraud or misrepresentation.

Property owners whose land will be taken for the Sabal Trail Transmission LLC’s natural gas pipeline should be compensated under Florida law rather than federal rules, a Florida federal judge ruled.

In Sabal Trail Transmission LLC v. Real Estate et al, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker denied the pipeline’s request that eminent domain compensation be determined pursuant to the federal “just compensation” standard.   The primary difference is that Florida’s just compensation includes attorneys’ fees and other expenses. Federal procedure does not provide for those expenses.

The New Jersey Appellate Division has held that the government can condemn easements for beach projects. In that case, the DEP sought voluntary easements from the landowners as part of a dune-and-berm system spanning the entire 18-mile length of Long Beach Island and 14 miles along Ocean County. The Court rejected the challenges of Ocean County property owners. The Court stated that the question was whether the specific eminent domain law at issue, N.J.S.A. 12:3-64, restricts the DEP to acquiring only a “fee simple” and not an easment. The appeals judges’ decision was based on the plain language of the statute and rejected the landowners’ arguments that the Legislature must have intended to limit the DEP’s authority to acquire only a fee simple.