PRACTICE AREA DETAILS
REAL ESTATE LITIGATION
Ownership and Use: Sometimes it is not entirely clear who owns what rights to property and in what manner they have a right to use it. Also, co-owners of real estate do not always agree on when and how to sell their property; for example, some co-owners may need to liquidate their assets while others prefer to continue to enjoy income from the property. A lawsuit to “quiet title” and related relief will clarify who owns real estate; who has a right to use real estate through easements or licenses; and whether someone has an enforceable security interest against that real estate. Likewise, a “partition” lawsuit will seek the equitable distribution of shared assets, whether it is an interest in an apartment complex or multiple (or even single) residential properties. Whatever issues may arise related to ownership and use of real estate, Matt is ready to assist and defend his clients’ rights.
Sales and Disclosures: For many people, purchasing or selling a home can be the most consequential single financial decision they make. As local home values continue to increase, buyers must commit an ever-larger portion of their savings into a new home, and sellers find themselves with more equity to preserve. With so much at stake, sometimes expectations of the parties fail to match their ultimate experience, and conflicts develop, whether it is a buyer experiencing “buyer’s remorse” and attempting to cancel a purchase contract, or perhaps a seller who confronts a claim from the buyers that not all material facts were properly disclosed. Just about all residential real estate purchase contracts require the parties to participate in mediation and binding arbitration in the event of a dispute, and Matt has worked with dozens of retired judges and attorneys who serve as mediators and arbitrators in these disputes. Matt has handled just about anything that could arise related from the sale of real estate, from breach of the sales contract, to claims of failure to disclose material defects, as well as title issues, and he is prepared to guide both sellers and buyers through any conflict that could arise related to the sale of real estate.
Neighbor Disputes: Fences don’t always make good neighbors; sometimes, they are put in the wrong place, and a dispute arises over whether one neighbor’s improvements encroach on another neighbor’s property. Matt will always try to help neighbors reach an amicable resolution, but he and his clients will also always be prepared to present their best case to a judge or jury for determination, whether it concerns nuisances, encroachments, common fences or walls, tree damage, or any other conflict that may arise between neighbors.
HOAs: Homeowners Associations can certainly be a valuable tool for high-density residential areas to maintain a consistent aesthetic, to organize communal sharing of the burdens of upkeep of common areas, and to collectively raise funds for occasional capital improvements. However, as just about every owner of a residence governed by an HOA can attest, real problems can arise: seemingly arbitrary enforcement of architectural committee rules; damage to individual units caused by common-area failures such as roofing or plumbing systems; and damage caused by neighboring units. Matt is very familiar with the procedures set forth in the Davis-Stirling Act that guide HOAs and owners in the enforcement of the Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions, and he has represented numerous homeowners defending their residences from HOA overreach and damage.
Landlord/Tenant: Disputes between landlords and tenants are not limited to eviction cases; oftentimes conflicts arise over rights to renew lease terms or the duties of either a landlord or tenant as to the maintenance of the leased property. Matt has represented both landlords and tenants in matters related to possession (eviction) as well as enforcing (or defending) obligations under lease agreements. Though primarily working with commercial clients, he also is available to lend a hand in the residential context.
Construction Law: Matt has represented general contractors, sub-contractors, and homeowners in all manner of construction-related litigation, from construction defect to the perfection and enforcement of mechanic’s liens (and defenses thereto), as well as resolving conflicts involving architects and design professionals.
Government: Whether it is guiding a client through local Planning Commission hearings, Assessor hearings, state regulatory agency proceedings, or even guiding a political initiative through the balloting process, Matt has helped homeowners, licensed professionals, and ordinary citizens work effectively with local governing bodies.
Managing a family estate can be a fraught process that sometimes leads to conflict where beneficiaries question how assets are valued and allocated, or question how principal and income are managed and distributed. For example, conflicts may arise where a trustee decides to preserve principal for the benefit of a later generation to the detriment of income distribution to the current generation, or where a trustee is charged with distributing both liquid and illiquid assets and must put a valuation on the illiquid assets. Matt has represented both beneficiaries and trustees in probate courts in Santa Cruz and Silicon Valley, and he stands ready to guide his clients through these occasionally dire straits.
It is simply not possible for any one document or contract to address all possible scenarios that could lead to a conflict between parties conducting business acting in good faith; sometimes, due to miscommunication or, rarely, bad faith, disputes arise as to the duties of one party or another to perform under expected contractual or statutory obligations. Matt’s civil litigation experience in real estate translates nicely to common business disputes, such as enforcing contracts; shareholder/member rights disputes; conflicts over intellectual property rights; and protecting franchisee rights.