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Eminent Domain & Real Estate Valuation

Fox Rothschild has one of the leading eminent domain and real estate litigation practices in the country. Join David Snyder, co-chair of the firm's Condemnation Practice Group, as he provides useful information and commentary regarding developments in the law, updates on projects and helpful tips regarding eminent domain and other real estate litigation related topics. This is an excellent resource for real estate professionals, property owners and condemnors who may be embarking upon a new project.
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Fair Housing Defense

Join Fox Rothschild attorneys Scott Badami and Christian Moffitt as they provide insight and information on and compliance with the Fair Housing Act and its state and local counterparts. The blog provides a forum for issues of interest to apartment owners and management companies as well as professional management employees.
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Recent Blog Posts

  • Changes in Federal Housing Policy with a New Administration? I try to avoid partisan politics here at the Fair Housing Defense Blog. As we have seen over the past year (and particularly over the past month), emotions on both sides can run hot. Nevertheless, I have had a couple of Blog readers ask my opinion about what President-elect Trump will mean for those of us in the professional apartment management world. The answer is: we don’t know. This morning, the President-elect announced that he would nominate Dr. Ben Carson to... More
  • Here Come the Holidays: What to do about Decorations in Apartment Communities? Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror. Christmas, Hanukkah, and other holidays will be here sooner than we think. A great time for kids and families. Santa Claus. Christmas trees. Menorahs. Decorations. For professional apartment management, however, the question of what to do (or not do) with respect to holiday displays and decorations comes up each year at this time. Leasing office staff members are required to balance the religious and holiday requests of all, while showing a preference to... More
  • Austin Loses Suit Alleging Undervalued Tax Appraisals A Texas appellate court recently affirmed the dismissal of the city of Austin’s lawsuit claiming commercial and vacant property are being undervalued during property tax appraisals.  Austin sued the Travis Central Appraisal District after an appraisal review board in Travis County denied the city’s formal challenge to what it said was the systematic undervaluation of two classes of vacant and commercial properties. The city alleged the state’s property tax appraisal system is unconstitutional and creates two different standards of assessment,... More
  • NJ Requires Proof Of Reasonable Probability Of Approvals For Alternate Highest And Best Use The NJ Appellate Division recently decided a case involving an important and recurring issue – valuing a property for a use that requires land development approvals.  In New Jersey Transit Corp. v. Franco, Docket No. A-3802-12T4, the Appellate Division reversed the trial court due to “prejudicial error” in permitting the condemnees’ experts to value the property with an apartment complex as its highest and best use without establishing the reasonable probability of obtaining certain land development approvals. The Appellate Division explained... More
  • DOJ Files New Fair Housing Act Disability Discrimination Action A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a new Fair Housing Act (FHA) lawsuit against the owner, builder, and designer of a housing complex near Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. In the complaint, the DOJ asserts that the apartment-style homes were constructed without complying with the FHA’s accessibility requirements. The lawsuit states that each of three buildings on the property have nine individually keyed units with their own bathroom and desk as well as... More
  • U.S. Subcommittee To Hold Hearing On Appraisals The Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance will hold a hearing entitled “Modernizing Appraisals: A Regulatory Review and the Future of the Industry” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 16, 2016. This hearing will examine the appraisal industry since the creation of the Appraisal Subcommittee in 1989, review the Dodd-Frank Act’s impact on appraisers, consumers and stakeholders, and explore the future of appraisals, including alternative home valuation methods. The link to view the hearing is:  http://financialservices.house.gov/ This will be a one-panel hearing with... More
  • Can a Property Owner Disclaim Responsibility for Complying With Accessibility Guidelines? In addition to renting units, many apartment owners/managers rent space for commercial enterprises (such as restaurants and stores) in their properties. Which can make good sense for both – providing a needed service or store with a ready-made group of people living extremely close by. All good, right? But, remember that when you lease space to a commercial vendor and that tenant modifies the space for a restaurant and/or shop – make sure that the renovated site conforms with the accessibility... More
  • Exemptions to the Fair Housing Act? Here Are a Few. But Most Professional Apartment Communities Will Need to Comply With the Law In response to regular requests, here is a summary of when the Fair Housing Act (FHA) may not be applicable. Again, if you are a professional property management company or employee, it is extremely likely the FHA (as well as state, city, and/or county anti-discrimination laws) applies. Nevertheless, here are some guidelines: The FHA does not generally apply to small owner-occupied buildings (a property with four or less units) when the owner resides in one of the units. This is referred... More
  • Eminent Domain Approved For El Paso Stadium The site for the $180 million Downtown arena south of the convention center was approved Tuesday by the El Paso City Council.  They also gave the authority to purchase properties and use eminent domain if necessary.  The plan was approved in a 7-0 vote after more than two hours of discussion.  The city can now begin negotiating with property owners to acquire the land.  Mayor Oscar Leeser stated he does not support the use of eminent domain. The arena will be... More
  • NJ Court Addresses Escrow For Contaminated Condemned Properties The Appellate Division of Superior Court decided a case addressing the amount that should be held in escrow in eminent domain cases involving contaminated properties.  In Housing Authority v. Suydam Investors, L.L.C., the NJ Supreme Court held that in an eminent domain case involving a contaminated property, the condemnor may seek an order requiring estimated remediation costs to be set aside in escrow.  In New Jersey Transit Corporation v. Mary Franco, the Appellate Division the court held that the escrow... More
  • PA Group Formed To Fight Eminent Domain Pennsylvania citizens have formed a new group aimed to change the way eminent domain is applied in Pennsylvania.  The group, called Protect Our Pennsylvania, held a rally at the State Capitol Tuesday. At this point, their primary focus is limiting the seizure of private property for pipeline projects. The group is not promoting a specific piece of legislation but has begun discussions with several legislators.... More
  • DOJ Settles Another Familial Status FHA Case — This Time For $30,000 When I started writing this blog, I was afraid that only my family and perhaps a couple of friends would actually read it. I remain gratified as to the number of hits Fair Housing Defense receives every month (I work for a big law firm, we track everything). However, today is my wife’s birthday (Hi Sweetie!) – let’s see if she reads this. Continuing their efforts to enforce the Fair Housing Act (FHA), last month the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)... More
  • DOJ Files “Statement of Interest” in FHA Case Concerning Criminal Background Screens While individuals with a criminal record are not listed as one of the seven protected class in our federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) issued guidelines in April 2016 indicating that some apartment criminal screens have a “disparate impact” on African American and Hispanic applicants for housing as there are a higher percentage of African Americans and Hispanics in jail then their percentage of the population would otherwise indicate. As such, the federal... More
  • DOJ Resolves “Design and Construction” Fair Housing Act Case: Settlement Requires Corrective Actions and a Fund to Compensate Victims At the end of last month, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it had reached a settlement of a new lawsuit with the builders and developers of 31 apartment buildings in Helena, MT in which the DOJ asserted that the projects were constructed in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) as they were not accessible to individuals with disabilities. In the complaint, DOJ alleged that 64 ground floor units were built with steps to entrances, inaccessible bathrooms and... More
  • DOJ Resolves Fair Housing Act Case in Utah Concerning Residents With Disabilities and Service/Emotional Support Animals Continuing its efforts to enforce the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), last week the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that the owners and managers of four apartment communities in Utah agreed to pay $45,000 to settle a lawsuit asserting that they discriminated against residents and applicants with disabilities. The complaint alleged that the defendants failed to provide reasonable accommodations to certain residents with disabilities with respect to their service and/or emotional support animals. The specific claim was that the owners/managers mandated that residents... More