Real estate law touches on every legal issue that relates to the possession or inhabitation of land.
When someone rents or purchases a place – regardless of whether that spot is a luxury hotel or a piece of farmland – the transaction is often governed by rules that are specific to the jurisdiction where the property is located.
Some attorneys are experts on the federal, state and local laws, statutes and regulations that apply to the exchange and usage of “real estate,” a legal term for undeveloped or developed land and any buildings and resources that exist on that land.
What Real Estate Law Is and What Real Estate Attorneys Do
When there are competing claims to the same physical space such as a botanical garden, parking lot or skyscraper, the dispute is often resolved through the application of real estate law.
This area of law determines who gets to occupy a particular location and how long they can stay. It addresses questions about the rights of landlords and tenants and touches on debates about environmental protection, historic preservation, construction safety and accessibility for individuals with disabilities. In addition, this type of law lays out the consequences of not making rent or mortgage payments and addresses evictions and foreclosures.
Real estate law sometimes restricts what landowners may do with their land in cases where their choices might negatively affect surrounding communities, such as by creating an eyesore, obstructing views of beautiful natural scenery or inflicting a danger on neighbors such as toxic waste emissions. This legal field also addresses how much authority is extended to homeowners associations and condo or co-op boards, to what extent that authority is limited and the technicalities of rent-to-own property contracts.
Lawyers in this field may choose to focus solely on either residential or commercial real estate, but they can also provide services to a mix of clients. They sometimes specialize in negotiating and facilitating real estate transactions and drafting legal documents like leases and deeds, and they occasionally concentrate on litigation.
Additionally, real estate lawyers can interpret zoning ordinances and building codes, provide guidance on the technicalities involved in real estate financing and help to establish joint ventures between developers and creditors. They typically can explain the property taxation system within a particular region and are skilled at restructuring real estate deals if the original bargain no longer works.