Real Cases in Real Estate By Andrea Lee Negroni, Esq. – January 6th, 2012 Update

Real Cases in Real Estate By Andrea Lee Negroni, Esq. – January 6th, 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 January 6th, 2012

Preservation of Trees on Homestead Property Doesn't Qualify the Owner for Oregon Designated Forestland Special Assessment.

Catherine Entenman owned a 2.5 acre property within the city limits of Portland, Oregon and built a home there. The property was heavily treed. She did not plant any trees on the property and only cut down a tree when it fell on her garage. More than 10 years after she bought the property, to obtain a lower assessment and lower property taxes, she sought a designation that her property was entitled to the Western Oregon Designated Forestland Special Assessment. The tax assessor disagreed.

An Oregon statute allows a special assessment for qualifying forestland that is used for the predominant purpose of growing and harvesting trees of marketable species. The forestland designation requires that the highest and best use of the land is the growing and harvesting of trees.  Entenman never harvested the trees that grew on her land or planted new trees - in fact, she simply ignored the trees that were there, and only cut one down when it actually fell on the garage. The owner's real motivation for seeking the forestland assessment was to lower her property taxes.

The Oregon Tax Court affirmed the denial of the special assessment, finding that the owner's goal, to enjoy and protect the forest (and lower her taxes) did not meet the legal requirements of the forestland statute. Merely wishing to enjoy the forest around one's home doesn't entitle the owner to the special assessment available to property owners who own or use their land for the predominant purpose of growing and harvesting marketable species of trees.

Catherine Entenman v. Multnomah County Assessor, Oregon Tax Court, Magistrate Division, 2011 Ore. Tax LEXIS 263 (June 16, 2011) [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers].

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