Real Cases in Real Estate By Andrea Lee Negroni, Esq. – July 2nd, 2012 Update

Real Cases in Real Estate is a weekly update on real estate law, with legal principles illustrated and explained by lawsuits from around the country. The topics are wide-ranging for appeal to a broad spectrum of readers including lawyers, homeowners, investors and the general public. Andrea Lee Negroni, a Washington DC attorney and legal writer with 25 years of experience in financial services and mortgage law, contributes the case summaries.

Followers of Real Cases in Real Estate will learn and be entertained by lawsuits involving nuisance, trespass, zoning violations, deed restrictions, title insurance, public utilities, mechanics liens, construction defects, adverse possession, foreclosure and eviction, divorce and marital property rights, tenants' rights, and more. Real Cases in Real Estate uncovers the unpredictable, amusing, and sometimes outrageous disputes between next-door neighbors, contractors and homeowners, condo boards and residents, real estate brokers and homebuyers, and zoning administrators and developers.

Each fully cited case summary highlights the essential law of the case and explains the principal legal theories and concepts relevant to the outcome. Plain language treatment makes Real Cases in Real Estate accessible to lawyers and laymen alike.

Whether you follow real estate law professionally or as a hobby, you'll find something new and useful every week in Real Cases in Real Estate.


Updates for the Week of July 2nd, 2012

To Claim Minnesota's Favorable Tax Rate for Agricultural-Homestead Property, A Family Farm Venture Must Own or Lease the Farm.

Frederick Farms, a corporation engaged in farming on a 300-acre parcel in Olmsted County, Minnesota, objected to an increase in its property tax rate when the county re-characterized the farm parcel from "agricultural-homestead" to "agricultural-nonhomestead." James Frederick, the sole shareholder of Frederick Farms and the person who did most of the farming, lived on an 80-acre property adjacent to the farm parcel. The agricultural-homestead rate applied to his 80 acres. James Frederick claimed the agricultural-homestead rate should apply to the entire 380 acres.

The Minnesota Supreme Court disagreed, citing two separate theories. First, because James Frederick already had a homestead on the separate 80 acres, he could not also have a homestead on a separate 300-acre parcel. The farming corporation owned the 300-acre farm, and no one lived on the farm. James then argued he was engaged in a "family farm venture," an argument which the Minnesota Supreme Court was inclined to accept. However, even if he was in a family farm venture with the farming corporation, the farm parcel was not eligible for the agricultural-homestead rate because it did not own or lease the land. The Court held that to be eligible for the agricultural-homestead rate, the family farm venture must either own the land being farmed, or lease it. Ownership by a separate corporation, Frederick Farms, made the farm ineligible for the agricultural-homestead tax rate.

Frederick Farms, Inc. vs. County of Olmsted, 801 N.W.2d 167, 2011 Minn. LEXIS 467 (August 10, 2011) [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers].

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