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tree over fence

Trees and Property Lines – My Neighbor’s Tree Is On My Property!

Trees As Encroachment Issues

What Can I Do If My Neighbor’s Tree Is On My Property?

The Tree Problem

A very common type of “encroachment” is when a tree, or any form of vegetation, grows onto or across somebody else’s property. What is an encroachment? An encroachment is like a trespass, but instead of trespassing with one’s body, the trespass is performed with a building, a fence, or for purposes of this article, a tree.

So why is a tree a problem? What can somebody possibly have against plants? Well, plants aren’t always as harmless as they appear. Roots can cause serious damage to foundations, lawns, fences, and drainage systems. Branches can block sunlight, impede construction or break and fall causing damage to whatever is beneath them. Fruit and Berries can fall onto decks and roofs and cause further issues. Finally, there is the ultimate right of a property owner to do what he wishes with his property (within the confines of the law) and not have it affected by the actions or wishes of another.

What Can a Property Owner Do?

So, your neighbor has a giant oak tree growing right against your fence. The branches extend tens of feet over the fence and onto your property. Its roots come up in your lawn, creating tripping hazards all over. In the Fall, it drops acorns and leaves all over your yard. What can you do to stop this nuisance?

Actually, this is one area where Connecticut law allows you to help yourself. You can chop out any roots that are on your property and cut off any branches reaching over your land. Your neighbor may complain but you are still within your legal rights. There are two exceptions, however; (1) You cannot cut down the tree completely or knowingly cause its death and (2) with FRUIT TREES, you cannot cut down the branches or take the fruit. Further, if you cut down somebody else’s tree where you knew it wasn’t your tree, you could be liable to the owner for up to 3 times the “reasonable value” of that tree (Conn. Gen. Stat. §52-560).

What If A Tree Or Branch Falls Onto My House or Car?

It is a possibility that a tree or branch will fall and damage somebody else’s property. This is possible with trees that are already encroaching or trees that are not encroaching while standing, but are once they fall. Sometimes, when these trees and branches fall onto the property of somebody else, they damage the house, a car, a fence or other property. However, the owner of that tree (or the land it was growing on) is not necessarily liable for the damage.

Factors that control an owner’s liability for damage caused by his tree falling on somebody else’s property are (1) whether they are a private owner or a commercial owner, (2) whether the tree was healthy or diseased/damaged, (3) did the tree or branch fall due to an “Act of God” such as a hurricane, or because it was unstable, and (4) are the properties located in a rural or urban area.


Encroachment Resolution

Many tree and vegetation encroachment issues can be resolved by negotiation. If your neighbor isn’t reasonable, you may want to have an attorney write a letter on your behalf explaining your rights and the actions you are going to take. When roots and falling branches or trees cause damage to your property, you may want to seek compensation from the responsible person or persons. If you are having encroachment issues with a neighbor, our real estate attorneys are ready to help.

Reading More on Connecticut laws regarding vegetation and real estate.

real estate closing attorney danbury ct

Do I Need a Real Estate Closing Attorney to Sell My Home?

Selling a Home in CT? You Need a Real Estate Closing Attorney

If you are looking to sell your home, you may or may not want to hire a real estate agent, but you will definitely want to hire a real estate closing attorney. While the marketing of your home to potential buyers is something you might be able to handle yourself, the services of a seller’s real estate closing attorney are essential to a legally compliant real estate sale.

What does a seller’s real estate closing attorney do?

A seller’s real estate closing attorney provides many services to the Seller that legally legitimize the sale and make it binding, while at the same time protecting the liability and financial interests of their client. A seller’s real estate closing attorney performs the following closing tasks:

  • Reviews Exclusive Right to Sell Agreement and Dual Representation Waiver with real estate agent/broker (if hired early enough);
  • Reviews and assists with Listing and Mandatory Disclosures (once again, if hired early enough);
  • Negotiates with buyer’s attorney and drafts Purchase and Sale Contract;
  • Works to resolve any inspection, appraisal or title issues to meet buyer’s needs;
  • Prepares closing documents such as power of attorney, Deed and affidavits;
  • Obtains payoff statements for outstanding liens or mortgages;
  • Attends the closing with, or on behalf of, the client;
  • Handles cash flow in escrow, receiving purchase funds and making any payments or disbursements; and
  • Secures and records releases for mortgages after closing.

When issues arise in real estate deals it is the attorneys that defuse situations and save deals by coming up with solutions that are acceptable to both parties. A seller’s real estate closing attorney can save a seller of real estate property a lot of stress and worry.


 

If you are looking to sell a house or condo in Connecticut, let us handle your real estate closing matters. We charge flat rate fees on closings, and we offer FREE phone consultations, so you can make sure we are the right attorney for you.

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Short Sale Debt Forgiveness Tax Relief

Tax Relief for Short Sale Debt Forgiveness

Short Sale Tax Relief

Exemption for Tax Liability Created by Short Sale Debt Forgiveness

The Budget Bill signed into law by President Obama on December 18th, 2015, has received a lot of coverage in the news for many reasons. One of the good thing hidden in the Bill is that The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, which had expired in 2014, has been retroactively extended through 2016. Let’s take a look at why further relief is necessary when debt is forgiven through short sale.

Debt Forgiveness is a Taxable Event

In this world, very few people are strangers to debt. Whether it is unsecured debt such as credit cards or student loans, or secured debt such as a mortgage on real estate property or car loan, almost everybody owes somebody else money. However, lenders do not always successfully collect debts owed to them. In these cases, the lender may elect to cancel all or part of the debt of the borrower.

With unsecured debt, the lender might not be able to collect the debt or may simply give up on trying to collect. With secured debt, the lender will usually chose to foreclose or repossess the property, or allow a short sale as discussed below.

What many people do not know, is that the forgiveness, discharge or cancellation of debt (whichever term you chose to use), is generally a taxable event. The IRS expects people to pay taxes on the difference between the amount they owed and the amount they actually paid. How does the IRS know? Because the lender is required by Federal Law to file Form 1099-C “Cancellation of Debt”, for any debt forgiveness greater than $600. the 1099-C contains pertinent information such as the borrower and lender identification, amount of debt forgiven and date of discharge. you are then required to show the amount of forgiven debt as income on Form 982 and submitted with your Form 1040 “Income Tax Return”.

How Does Debt Forgiveness Tax Impact Short Sale?

In a Short Sale, the lender allows the property owner and borrower to sell the property for less than they owe, and forgive the remainder of the debt, in an attempt to save themselves the time and cost of foreclosure and property maintenance. Technically, this debt forgiveness would be a taxable event as discussed above.

However, The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act shields homeowners from tax liabilities created by mortgage debt that is forgiven due to Short Sale of a principal residence (as well as debt forgiven through mortgage modification or deed in lieu of foreclosure). Up to $2,000,000 of forgiven debt is eligible for tax exclusion.

Is Tax Relief for Short Sale Debt Forgiveness Fair?

Whether the forgiveness is fair or not is up for debate, but it definitely makes sense. People seeking Short Sale to avoid foreclosure do not have the money to pay their mortgage. How can the IRS expect the borrower to pay taxes on money they couldn’t pay? With the great number of financially distressed properties in this housing bubble, they can’t.

Consult a Professional

You need to make sure you are making use of the right professionals so that you do not pay the price at a later date. Your account should be consulted whenever a large scale taxable event occurs; such as the forgiveness of thousands of dollars or more in debt. They will need this information to accurately file your tax return. Your real estate attorney needs to make sure that the lender provides you with a 1099-C that is complete and accurate. Finally, you need to make sure that your team is communicating and exchanging information efficiently.

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