Not a Lexis+ subscriber? Try it out for free.

Real Estate Law

Real Cases in Real Estate By Andrea Lee Negroni, Esq. – July 31st, 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 31st, 2012

Apartment Complex Owner's 17-Year Battle Over Possession of the Laundry Rooms.

In 1980, Coinmach leased the laundry rooms for 10 years at the Garden View Apartments in Harris County, Texas, agreeing to install and operate laundry equipment and pay the owner a percentage of the laundry room receipts. Near the end of its lease, Coinmach extended its lease for another 10 years. During the extension period, in 1994, the apartment complex was sold at foreclosure; the foreclosure buyer resold it to a corporation. The new corporate owner notified Coinmach to vacate the laundry room. Coinmach claimed its lease was still valid and refused to vacate.

The parties' lawsuits over possession of the laundry rooms have been in Texas courts since 1996. The Texas Appeals Court recently explained the effect of a foreclosure on a lease. "When a landlord-mortgagor is foreclosed upon, the general rule is that a tenant's lease is terminated." The tenant then becomes a holdover tenant, leading to the question: What are the rights of a holdover tenant? The answer typically depends on whether a new lease is formed by the owner and holdover tenant, or not. If not, the holdover tenant becomes either a "tenant at will" or "tenant at sufferance." Tenants at will lawfully possess the premises, albeit for no fixed term, and the owner may put them out at any time. Conversely, tenants at sufferance occupy premises wrongfully. In fact, tenants at sufferance differ from trespassers only because of their previous rightful possession.

If the owner and holdover tenant make no new lease, whether the holdover tenant is "at will" or "at sufferance" can depend on the owner's conduct toward him. In this case, the owner tried to get Coinmach out of its laundry rooms immediately following the foreclosure. Based on overwhelming evidence of its "unwavering disinterest" in continuing any relationship with Coinmach, Coinmach was found to be a tenant at sufferance. Faced with this legal conclusion, Coinmach claimed its possessory rights could not be terminated until a legal eviction was conducted. The Texas court rejected this claim. "A tenant who remains in possession of premises after the term of the lease occupies wrongfully as a tenant at sufferance and is impliedly liable to the landlord for the use and occupation or the fair rental value of the property."

Seventeen years after the apartment complex changed hands following foreclosure, the owner now has the blessing of the Texas courts to pursue claims against Coinmach for trespass and other injuries.

Aspenwood Apartment Corp. v. Coinmach, Inc., 349 S.W.3d 621, 2011 Tex. App. LEXIS 957 (Feb. 10, 2011) [enhanced version available to subscribers].


Sign in with your ID to access Real Estate Law resources on or any of these Mathew Bender  Real Estate Law publications

Click here to order Property Law treatises/resources and Mathew Bender publications. 

Click here to order Real Estate Law treatises/resources and Mathew Bender publications. 

LexisNexis Publications:

View the LexisNexis Catalog of Legal and Professional Publications

LexisNexis eBooks

Click here for a list of available LexisNexis eBooks.

Click here to learn more about LexisNexis eBooks.

For more information about LexisNexis products and solutions connect with us through our corporate site.