Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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Dale and Kathi Lee appealed a district court’s decision granting summary judgment in favor of Willow Creek Ranch Estates No. 2 Subdivision Homeowners’ Association, Inc. (the HOA). The dispute between the Lees and the HOA centered on a 1997 agreement that purportedly granted the Lees three access points to a private road owned by the HOA. The Lees conceded in the district court that the Agreement alone did not create an enforceable easement. The Lees asserted, however, that an easement existed based on the doctrine of part performance or that an enforceable encumbrance existed through the doctrine of equitable servitudes. The district court determined that neither the doctrine of part performance nor the doctrine of equitable servitudes were applicable to this case and granted the HOA’s motion for summary judgment. Finding no error in the district court judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Lee v. Willow Creek Ranch Est." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of a failed golf course development project known as “The Idaho Club” undertaken by Pend Oreille Bonner Development, LLC (“POBD”). POBD took out several loans to finance the development of The Idaho Club and subsequently defaulted on them, failed to pay mechanics and materialmen for their services, and failed to pay real property taxes. During this litigation, three lending companies, R.E. Loans, LLC, Pensco Trust Co. and Mortgage Fund ’08 assigned and/or sold all of their right, title, and interest in their three loans with POBD to Valiant Idaho, LLC (“Valiant”). The loans were secured by three mortgages that provided parcels of The Idaho Club as collateral. VP, Inc. had an interest in certain lots containing water and sewer infrastructure (the lagoon lots and the well lots) and it held utility easements for the same. VP obtained its interest in The Idaho Club from quitclaim deeds to four parcels and an alleged equitable servitude and prescriptive easements. The Idaho Supreme Court determined VP did not err in granting partial summary judgment against VP as to its liens' priority, nor did it err as to Valiant's third motion for summary judgment or in granting Valiant's temporary restraining order and injunction. The Court determined VP waived its right to challenge a second decree of foreclosure on appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court except as to the issue of discretionary costs, which was vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Valiant Idaho v. VP Inc." on Justia Law

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This case stems from the foreclosure and lien priority case arising out of the failed Idaho Club golf course and residential housing development project. The developer, Pend Oreille Bonner Development, LLC (“POBD”), took out several loans on the real property, agreed to promissory notes, and mortgaged the Idaho Club real property with several lenders, including JV, LLC and, as relevant to this appeal, three other lenders: RE Loans (“REL”), LLC, Pensco Trust Co., and Mortgage Fund ’08 LLC (“MF08”) (collectively, the three “lenders”). JV’s interest in the Idaho Club arose out of a mortgage (the “JV Mortgage”) it recorded against five parcels on the Idaho Club property that JV sold to POBD. POBD ultimately defaulted on its obligations on the promissory notes associated with the mortgages. In addition to defaulting on the notes, POBD failed to pay property taxes to Bonner County for several years and failed to pay various mechanics and materialmen, one of which was Genesis Golf Builders, Inc. (“Genesis”). JV appealed the district court's conclusion that Valiant Idaho, LLC (“Valiant”) held a priority position in the mortgages on the development. JV also appealed the district court’s award of costs against it, as well as a judgment by the district court that awarded sanctions against JV and its attorney. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part, finding JV's redemption deed did not subordinate it to Bonner County's right, title, claim and interested based on a tax deed. The Supreme Court also found the district court abused its discretion in the way that it applied the formula announced in Valiant Idaho, LLC v. North Idaho Resorts, LLC (No. 44583, 2018 WL 4927560) to arrive at its costs award. View "Valiant Idaho v. JV, LLC" on Justia Law

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This was an action arising out of a failed golf course and residential development project known as the “Idaho Club.” North Idaho Resorts, LLC (“NIR”) appealed an award of discretionary costs and costs as a matter of right awarded against it, contending the district court abused its discretion by awarding discretionary costs, and that the court’s award of some costs as a matter of right was erroneous. After review of the district court record, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court abused its discretion by using a formulaic analysis in this case, and by awarding some costs as a matter of right against NIR. The district court judgment was reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Valiant Idaho v. No. Idaho Resorts" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from a dispute regarding Idaho First Bank’s (“IFB”) efforts to collect on a note secured by a deed of trust. IFB appealed a district court order granting summary judgment in favor of debtors Maj-Le and Harold Bridges (the “Bridges”). The Bridges began leasing land from the Idaho Department of Lands (the “State”) in 2005, with the intent to build a cottage on the land. In 2014, the Bridges entered into a new nine-year term lease agreement with the State. This new lease contained a provision classifying buildings and structures on the leased land as “Personal Property.” This provision was not in the original 2005 lease agreement. In May 2015, the Bridges defaulted on the note. The Bridges then tendered both the cottage and the lease to IFB. On June 19, 2015, IFB filed suit, seeking a judgment on the note without taking action to foreclose on the deed of trust. Significant here, more than three months later, IFB amended its complaint a second time, claiming two separate causes of action seeking a deficiency judgment in the sum of $344,377.24. The first cause of action sought a deficiency under Idaho Code section 28-9-615, with IFB continuing to maintain that the 5000-square-foot cottage was personal property; the second cause of action sought the same relief on the basis of Idaho Code section 45-1512, relative to trust deeds and real property. The Bridges moved for summary judgment against IFB’s deficiency claims, arguing: (1) the cottage was not personal property, making the claim pursuant to section 28-9-61 erroneous; and (2) IFB’s deficiency claims were time barred because they were not filed within three months after foreclosure of the deed of trust, as required by section 45-1512. Finding no reversible error in the district court order, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment. View "Idaho First Bank v. Bridges" on Justia Law

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This case was the second appeal following a judicial foreclosure. Charles and Donna Nickerson initially appealed the district court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of PHH Mortgage and J.P. Mortgage Chase Bank in a judicial foreclosure proceeding involving the Nickersons’ approximately fifty acres of land in Clearwater County, Idaho (the “Property”). The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s summary judgment grant in PHH Mortgage v. Nickerson, 374 P.3d 551 (2016) (“Nickerson I”). Following the Supreme Court’s decision, the district court issued an order lifting the stay on its prior judgment, as well as an order of sale and decree of foreclosure. The district court also denied the Nickersons’ post-appeal motions for sanctions, to quash execution and judgment, and to vacate or amend the order of sale and decree of foreclosure. The Nickersons then challenged several issues previously decided in Nickerson I as well as the district court’s decisions on motions and orders subsequent to that decision. The Supreme Court found that the "law of the case" doctrine prevented the Supreme Court from addressing issues that were raised or could have been raised in Nickerson I, and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the Nickersons' motion to quash execution and judgment, and the motion to reconsider. View "PHH Mortgage v. Nickerson" on Justia Law

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Appellants Coleman Homes, LLC, West Highlands, LLC, West Highlands Subdivision Homeowner’s Association, Inc., and West Highlands Land, LLC appealed a district court order entered in favor of the City of Middleton, Idaho. Appellants entered into two agreements with the City regarding impact fees and public access space for the West Highlands Ranch Subdivision (the “Project”) located in Middleton. Soon thereafter, Appellants asserted the agreements were invalid and unenforceable. In response, the City sought a judgment from the district court declaring the agreements valid and enforceable. The parties eventually stipulated to the validity of the agreements. Both sides filed motions for summary judgment asking the district court to interpret the agreements. The district court ultimately ordered Appellants to designate 12.8 acres of land within the Project as public access space and ruled that Appellants were obligated to provide a financial guarantee, if necessary. Based on the summary judgment order, the district court found the City to be the prevailing party and awarded the City attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-120(3). Appellants appealed the district court’s prevailing party determination. The City cross-appealed the district court’s fee award and ruling that Appellants were obligated to provide a financial guarantee, if necessary. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the prevailing party determination, and ordered a clerical error with respect to naming the party obligated to provide a financial guarantee. View "Middleton v. Coleman Homes" on Justia Law

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The City of Idaho Falls (“Idaho Falls”) appealed an order dismissing its breach of contract and waste claims against H-K Contractors, Inc. (“H-K”). In 2005, H-K entered into a written contract requiring it to convey a parcel of property to Idaho Falls. The contract required that H-K initially grant Idaho Falls a storm drainage easement “over and across” the parcel. H-K was also required to convey fee title to the parcel at a future date, in no event later than March 1, 2010. H-K failed to convey the property to Idaho Falls as required. In 2016, Idaho Falls sent a letter to H-K requesting conveyance of title. H-K responded by refusing to convey title to the property, claiming that in 2009 a city official had orally informed H-K that Idaho Falls was no longer interested in the property. Based on that alleged representation, H-K decided to invest in the property to make it profitable. Idaho Falls filed a complaint against H-K for breach of contract and waste. H-K moved to dismiss the complaint based on the limitation found in Idaho Code section 5-216, alleging Idaho Falls’ claims were time barred because they were not brought within the five-year statute of limitations governing contract actions. Idaho Falls countered that the statute of limitations did not apply to it as a subdivision of the State of Idaho. On January 3, 2017, the district court dismissed Idaho Falls’ complaint as time barred. Idaho Falls timely appealed, claiming the district court erred in enforcing the five-year limitation set forth in section 5-216. The Idaho Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment, finding it erred when it determined the term “state” in Idaho Code section 5- 216 did not include Idaho’s municipalities. Because Idaho Falls was the “state,” the district court erred when it found its contract claims against H-K were not “for the benefit of the state.” View "City of Idaho Falls v. H-K Contractors" on Justia Law

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Scott and Anne Davison appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of DeBest Plumbing (DeBest). In 2012, the Davisons hired Gould Custom Builders, Inc. (Gould) to perform an extensive remodel of their vacation home in Idaho. Gould hired DeBest as the plumbing subcontractor. A bathtub installed by DeBest developed a leak that caused significant damage before it was noticed and repaired. The Davisons sought damages based upon the contract between Gould and DeBest and for negligence. The district court granted DeBest’s motion for summary judgment on the contract claims because the Davisons were not in privity of contract with DeBest. Later, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of DeBest on the negligence claim, finding that the Davisons had failed to comply with the requirements of the Notice and Opportunity to Repair Act (NORA), Idaho Code sections 6-2501–2504. On appeal, the Davisons argued they satisfied the requirements of NORA because DeBest received actual notice of the claim and sent a representative to inspect the damage. Finding that the Davidsons satisfied the requirements of NORA when they gave DeBest actual notice, and DeBest had an opportunity to inspect the defect, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court erred in granting DeBest's motion for summary judgment on the Davidsons' negligence claim. The Supreme Court reversed as to negligence, but affirmed the district court in all other respects. View "Davison v. DeBest Plumbing" on Justia Law

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The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Marian Baker, Trustee of the Marian B. Baker Trust (“Baker”), for an easement over a logging road (“Alexanna Lane”) that crossed the property of KAL, LLC (“KAL”). Initially there were claims involving John and Vickie Stadler (the “Stadlers”), and Jose Melendreras and Jacqueline Diaz-Melendreras (the “Melendrerases”). However, the appeal here involved only the claims between Baker and KAL. In February of 2015 Baker filed a complaint to quiet title against KAL, the Stadlers and the Melendrerases to extinguish an easement on the Baker Property. The Stadlers answered Baker’s complaint and asserted claims against Baker and the Melendrerases to quiet title and for common law trespass. The Stadlers noted that access to the Baker Property was intended to run through the Melendreras Property, not through the KAL Property or the Stadler Property. Baker filed a motion for summary judgment with respect to Count I and Count II of the Stadlers’ counterclaim, asserting that she was entitled to use Alexanna Lane to access her property because: (1) a statutory easement was created pursuant to Idaho Code section 55-603; (2) the 1999 deed intended to create and describe the easement; (3) an implied easement existed; (4) an easement by necessity existed because there was no other access to a public road; and (5) there was an easement by prescription. The Stadlers opposed Baker’s motion for summary judgment, asserting that there was no easement created that allowed Baker to access Alexanna Lane. Amidst these disputes KAL filed an answer and counterclaim to Baker’s complaint, asserting that Baker had no legal right to travel across the KAL Property; KAL maintained the 1999 deed was ambiguous, and the language did not reserve an easement that ultimately Baker claimed she held. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s determination of the meaning of the easement language in the deed, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment. View "Baker v. KAL, LLC" on Justia Law