Language Is Key When It Comes to Deeds and Titles

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on November 20, 2013

It might be a pain in the neck, but we, of course, dealing with properties costing arms, legs and a few pancreases to boot. They’re not cheap. And they’re most definitely, for sure, investments to the third degree. That’s why there are typically some restrictions and stipulations with respect to deeds and titles for many neighborhoods. If they’re not followed, there can be a problem. But the language has to be clear.house

Case in point: for example, here we have a family, the Heleskis, building a structure on their property, however neglecting to inform or gain approval from the homeowners’ association. Let’s say the specific deed restrictions involve the prohibition of any “outbuildings” constructed beyond that of the original property building, whatever it may be. An “outbuilding” is typically considered a separatestructure in the same lot as the home.

In this case, the family was intending to build a structure outside of their original building. Neighbors apparently would file suit with the HOA, and an action then is motioned in the circuit court to force a cease and desist on construction. However…. What if the homeowners in question labeled the structure as a “garage”? What if their building applications, and even constant communication, with the HOA specifically labeled it as a “garage”? Garages can be permissible, given it’s not necessarily an “outbuilding.”

Needless to say, the trial court initially found a decision in favor of the Heleskis. But the neighbors didn’t give up. An appeal was filed with the Second District, and after careful consideration to determine the function of the structure itself, it became known that while the family termed the structure as a “garage,” it actually didn’t function as one. So they reversed the order. Once again: a huge example as to why literal meanings, facts and plain words matter in real estate law.

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