Every homeowner should be aware that the responsibility for keeping up your real property, whether it is your personal residence or a rental property, is not merely a personal preference to be exercised only when you desire. The condition and appearance of the property is also a matter of public interest and, if you fail to maintain said property to the satisfaction of the municipality in which the property is located, you could find yourself being called before a judge in Housing Court.
In New York State Grievance Day is the opportunity for owners of Real Property to challenge their property’s assessment for real property tax purposes.
Each municipality has its own Grievance day. Generally towns hold Grievance Day in the spring – in Erie County towns it tends to be the fourth Wednesday in May; the City of Buffalo’s is near the end of December. You can check on the website for the New York State Office of Real Property Services (ORPS).
You can find just about anything on the Internet, from a meatloaf recipe to a Yorkshire Terrier. The Internet can be a valuable tool or a source of entertainment, but it is a risky place to find a commercial lease form. “One Size Fits All” Lease forms may contain seemingly appropriate legalese like “subrogation” and “condition precedent,” but if you don’t know what those terms mean, you shouldn’t use them.
The current economic chaos and uncertain future has negatively impacted many industries and people. Some businesses are filing for bankruptcy and others are seeking relief through bailout plans. The average person has probably suffered significant investment losses especially relative to their 401k or other retirement plan. Even worse, some individuals may be faced with job instability and are probably starting to look for ways they can cut expenses to start saving for peace of mind or to bridge the gap in the losses that have been sustained over the past five months.
I attended a meeting this morning where it was announced that there had been a significant rise in title insurance claims in New York State. These claims are made against title insurance policies issued to either the homeowner (if he/she purchased this optional policy at the time they bought their home) or the bank lending the money for their purchase or refinance (such a policy is always required by the bank).
Though the Buffalo area has not been hit as hard by the mortgage crisis as other parts of the country, there are still many local people who are affected. Whether in a foreclosure situation or in negotiating with a lender to accept something less than the full mortgage debt that is owed (a “short sale”), a homeowner may end up having a portion of his or her mortgage debt forgiven by his or her lender. In the past, this may have solved one problem (the inability to satisfy the mortgage) but created another: income tax due on the forgiven debt.
A client recently shared with me an unsolicited offer he had received in the mail. The company offered to obtain (for a sizeable fee) a certified copy of the client’s deed of ownership to his property from the local county clerk. The offer stated that it was a good idea to have a copy of this valuable document, which is the single best indication that you own your own home. I agree with that statement, which is why all lawyersrecommend recording deeds in the county clerk’s office in the first place. The clerk records the deed by referencing it in an index of deed records (so it can be found by anyone, simply by looking up the seller/buyer’s name) and scanning the deed into the clerk’s computer files. The image of the deed is available for public inspection forever.