Real Cases in Real Estate By Andrea Lee Negroni, Esq. – April 18th, 2012 Update

Real Cases in Real Estate By Andrea Lee Negroni, Esq. – April 18th, 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 April 18th, 2012

A tax assessor's mistake in misclassifying lakefront property does not justify reduction of the owner's taxes to the off-water tax rate. 

Sharon Allport owned a ranch house on a 1/3 acre lot in Rochester, Indiana. She challenged her 2006 tax assessment after noticing her taxes were much higher than in previous years. The reason for the increase was a reclassification of her property as "on water."  Earlier, the property was classified as off-water. However, Allport's property had always been on-water; the off-water classification was a mistake by the tax assessor's office.

At a hearing, Allport argued that her previous off-water classification should be reinstated because neighboring lakefront properties were still designated as off-water. She also claimed her property was not on the "main body" of the lake, but rather at the head of the lake, where the lake narrows and goes into the wetlands. She said it was unfair for her taxes to be more than her neighbors' taxes, if all were on the water. The mistaken classification of Allport's neighbors' properties was corrected a year after her own property was reclassified. As a result, she paid higher taxes for a year longer than the neighbors. She therefore claimed she was not given "equal treatment" with the neighbors.

The court said the tax assessor's mistake was not a sound reason for awarding Allport lower taxes. The fact that others benefitted from the same property classification mistake did not justify perpetuating an inequity in tax assessments.

Allport V. Fulton County Assessor, Indiana Tax Court, 919 N.E.2d 1251; 2010 Ind. Tax LEXIS 2 (Jan. 25, 2010) [enhanced version available to subscribers].

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