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Advertising billboards in farm fields are a common sight along the interstate highways. Normally, the company negotiates a long-term lease with the landowner. This case involves the ownership, operation, and maintenance of a billboard along Interstate 80. The trial court found that the billboard lease at issue was not void, because the landowners were not good faith purchasers and were on notice of the billboard.
In this case, the plaintiff decided to sell her home. Because she was unfamiliar with the process, she asked the defendant, a co-worker of her deceased husband to help. In the process of trying to get the house sold, an intimate relationship developed between the parties. During this three-year period, however, the plaintiff’s house never sold for the asking price of $90,000. Later, the defendant bought a home for $76,000.
Iowa law requires that both husband and wife sign a mortgage agreement when encumbering homestead property. That requirement was at issue in this case.
A prescriptive easement is an easement determined to exist by law that gives the easement holder the right to use a part of another person’s property once it has been determined that the party asserting the easement has used the property in a certain manner for a set number of years (10 years in Iowa). This case involved a county’s assertion of an easement for a road over a strip of the plaintiff’s property.
A recent opinion of the Iowa Court of Appeals reaffirms the principle that a restrictive covenant can be created by a plat. The court's opinion is a reminder that care must be taken in the preparation of plat maps, title opinions and when further development of lots contained in subdivisions is anticipated.
If an owner of real property fails to pay real estate taxes on the property, the possibility exists that the county may sell the property to recover the unpaid tax. But, there are statutory procedures that must be followed for the tax-sale buyer to actually end up with legal title to the property. Those procedures can become complicated when the tract at issue is leased to a tenant who has possession of the property – that’s what was involved in this case.
It’s a fundamental rule of law – state tax dollars can be used to pay for improvements that benefit the public at large, but they can’t be used to pay for improvements that benefit private landowners. Private landowners must pay for the assessed cost of the improvement that adds value to their property, and recover the extra cost upon eventual sale of the property. That principle was at issue in this case.
It’s a fundamental principle that most people understand – it’s not a good idea to build a barn in the middle of a road. But, that’s exactly what happened in this case from Monroe County.
In Iowa, landowners with landlocked real estate are entitled to access to their property via an easement by necessity. Here, neighbors executed an easement agreement permitting access to two tracts of land (the dominant estate) through the adjacent parcel (servient estate) owned by one of the neighbors. The parties agreed to share a gravel roadway located on the easement as a driveway. After an argument regarding the placement of property lines, the owners of the servient estate constructed a speed bump on the access road, claiming safety concerns.
Property owners that challenge property tax assessments must file their appeals properly. That point was made clear in this case.
Iowa law requires real estate sellers to provide a written disclosure statement to prospective buyers that details the condition and characteristics of the property. The law is known as the Iowa Real Estate Disclosure Act (Act), and it authorizes an aggrieved buyer to recover actual damages resulting from a violation of the Act. But, must the buyer establish that the seller defrauded the buyer as a condition of recovering under the Act? That was the question presented in this case.
One of the perils of owning real estate in co-ownership is the right of a co-owner to force a partition and sale. That usually happens when one or more of the co-owners wishes to liquidate their interest or wants outright ownership of a particular portion of the co-owned property. Typically, when a partition action is entered into in an ag setting, family members are involved and the proceeding is acrimonious. There are ways to eliminate the possibility of partition, such as by owning real estate in entity form, but often those steps have not been taken.
When a mechanic’s lien is foreclosed upon and the real estate is sold, the owner of the property and lienholders have certain statutory rights of redemption. Normally, notice of redemption rights is specified in the notice of the foreclosure sale and also the deed of foreclosure. But, are redemption rights extinguished if such notice is not made and another party buys the property under a belief that no redemption rights existed? That was the question involved in this case.
When a landowner owns a parcel of land that is landlocked, the landowner can access the property by the nearest feasible route. Iowa courts have typically refused to examine the impact on the servient estate (the land that is being crossed) when determining the location of the nearest feasible route, and that’s what happened here.
The Iowa Real Estate Disclosure Act (Iowa Code §558A) requires a person transferring real estate to disclose physical defects on the property in writing. A seller is liable for the economic damages a buyer suffers if information relating to the defect was not communicated and the damages are related to the undisclosed defect. However, the buyer must establish that the seller’s failure to disclose was intentional.
Under Iowa law, if a partition fence is not located on the true boundary line and remains there for at least 10 years, it can become the boundary by default. Iowa Code §650.14 specifies that, “If it is found that the boundaries and corners alleged to have been recognized and acquiesced in for ten years have been so recognized and acquiesced in, such recognized boundaries and corners shall be permanently established.” This concept is commonly known as “boundary by acquiescence” or the “doctrine of practical location.”
Here, the Iowa Court of Appeals was asked to determine whether the manner of providing notice of a property owner’s right of redemption under Iowa Code §447.9 comports with constitutional due process requirements.
In this case, the defendants purchased the plaintiff’s real estate at a tax sale. After the tax sale, the defendants notified the plaintiff by certified and regular mail of her right to redeem the property. But, the certified mail was returned as undelivered and the plaintiff later claimed that she had never received notice of her redemption status.
The essence of contract law is an offer by one party that is accepted by another party and where the contracting parties come to a “meeting of the minds” concerning the essential contract terms. But, what if the parties are mistaken about the same material fact involving a key element of the contract? The parties have, indeed, reached a meeting of the minds, but they are mistaken. Can they get out of the contract? A mutual mistake was involved in this case.
When a landowner owns a parcel of land that is landlocked, the landowner can access the property by the nearest feasible route. Iowa courts have typically refused to examine the impact on the servient estate (the land that is being crossed) when determining the location of the nearest feasible route.
Family settlement agreements are arrangements made between heirs to distribute property differently than under a will. This allows beneficiaries, typically family members, to divide property as they see fit. Thus, in this way, family members do not always have to accept the provisions of a will if all of the beneficiaries sign off on settlement. In this case, the Iowa Court of Appeals was asked to interpret the provisions of a will and an accompanying family settlement agreement.
The Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation does not provide legal advice. Any information provided on this website is not intended to be a substitute for legal services from a competent professional. The Center's work is supported by fee-based seminars and generous private gifts. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the material contained on this website do not necessarily reflect the views of Iowa State University.