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Questions Answered by Richard Sternberg
2 Answers | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for Virginia on
Q: My ex and I broke up. I want him to leave. I just realized our landlord never signed our lease. Is our lease valid?

My landlord is willing to do whatever to get him out. Does this make our lease an oral lease?

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Jun 17, 2019

The lease can be enforced against anyone who signed it, and it might be enforceable if the intent to have a signed, written lease is apparent on the facts, such as emails, endorsing deposited rent checks, etc.

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2 Answers | Asked in Environmental and Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: Is there a difference between water quality inspection and a well inspection?

Trying to figure this out in a home contract... a realtor is trying to tell me there isn't, but I think there is. I just want to rectify the issue before any contract is signed and legal issues develop

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Jun 14, 2019

When in doubt, include it twice, such as "water quality inspection including but not limited to well inspection".

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: My father passed away and his rental property is under water, what can I do?

He was supplementing the rent each month, we personally would like to short sale if possible. The current renter has a lease through December 2019.

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Jun 6, 2019

You should sit down with a probate attorney for a consult. If your father's only asset was the rental property that is underwater on its mortgage loan, and if the estate has no other assets that you'd like to protect, you might simply abandon the rental and let the lender foreclose. It isn't going... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law and Tax Law for Virginia on
Q: When completing a irs offer in compromise, is vacant land considered real property?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Jun 5, 2019

The definition of real estate is land. If something is built on the land, it is developed real estate.

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3 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law and Tax Law for Virginia on
Q: Can the irs enforce a tax lien on a cash sale for property?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Jun 5, 2019

The form of payment won’t matter if the IRS has put a proper lien on the title. You can’t close without paying off or bonding it off. Nobody will insure that title, and the buyer will be quite upset if he buys without a proper closing and then learns that the property has gone to a tax sale or... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: Is a HOA responsible for cutting tree limbs hanging over owners property, where tree is on HOA property?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Jun 1, 2019

It depends what your HOA covenants, declarations, rules, and, sometimes, subsequent carried motions say about the issue. It is very important to read and understand them. A lawyer can help you do that.

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: How long does a defendant have to respond to a lawsuit in Fairfax County general district court before going to court?

This case is about the sale of a house in Fairfax County.

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on May 31, 2019

The answer depends on place, date, and type of service. It also depends on what you mean by “respond.” Part of the Answer you seek may be printed on the Summons, but it is very easy to get the wrong and Virginia Courts are very serious about defaults. Schedule a consult with a local lawyer to... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law and Landlord - Tenant for Virginia on
Q: Can my landlord force me to bail water out of the window wells? Can I seek compensation for the physical labor?

In the summer of 2018 several rain storms caused water to fill the window wells in the finished basement of a single family home and leak water into the dry wall, insulation, and carpet. The landlord was on vacation and forced the renters to physically bail water out of the window wells each time... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on May 30, 2019

You need to review the lease with a licensed real estate lawyer. If the lease puts the burgent of maintenance or repair on the tenant, you might be obligated. It usually doesn’t in residential leases in Vienna, particularly illegal basement apartments. Contrary to popular belief, all leases are... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: How long does it usually take for a real estate case to settle in Virginia?

Real Estate law

This involves the sale of a house, and the seller has yet to get paid! It's located in Fairfax County.

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on May 29, 2019

187 days, 6 hours, 4 minutes and 32 seconds... provided that ends on a Tuesday. Otherwise, five hours three minutes 12.4 seconds less.

Come on, you've got to know that question is ridiculous. Which county? Which court? What type of real estate case? Is probate Involved? What are the...
Read more »

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4 Answers | Asked in Employment Law, Personal Injury and Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: What are the potential consequences for not answering questions during the discovery process of a lawsuit?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on May 28, 2019

Here’s a citation to the Federal Rule. You might try casecite.com or Lexus.com or one of the other sources for the commentary. Fed. R. Civ. P. 37.

The Virginia rules are similar with significant procedural and substantive differences. You should follow your lawyer’s counsel on this and...
Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: Need help/guidance in estate claim/probate claim in VA.

Assistance with an estate situation that has in VA. Best of friends and also involved in formal business since 2007.

Brother is listed as executor of a will that was filed. The will is very vague drafted in 2009. It mentions nothing regarding our business relationships over the years.... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on May 23, 2019

It is difficult to pursue a claim as small as $13,000 with a claim involving a declined probate. It isn't as simple as a General District Court case, because it needs to start with the opening of a probate and might lead to a contested and hostile petition for probate by you in spite of not being... Read more »

4 Answers | Asked in Foreclosure and Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: Great grandmother's property going into lien foreclosure in 2 wks. If I pay taxes, can I sell the property.

Great grandmother died in 1985. Left property as heir property. My mother held power of attorney. My great-uncle attempted to sell the property. He couldn't b/c the heirs never paid my great-grandmother's attorney for the work he did. As such, the deed was never transferred to the heirs. Taxes are... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on May 22, 2019

There are steps between the taxes being due and a foreclosure sale, but those steps vary by jurisdiction. The short answer is that paying the taxes does not buy the title for you. Unless the actual title owners agree, it buys you nothing but a dubious claim for contribution, and that is limited if... Read more »

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3 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: Is it worth pursuing a buyer who defaulted on a residential sale 2 days before closing after removing all contingencies?

Our buyer unexpectedly presented us with a unilateral termination as we were preparing to close.

- we met all deadlines including original closing date

- we agreed to and completed over $5k in repairs (our agent coordinated with the contractor to pay out of proceeds)

- the... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on May 21, 2019

You should get a contract review to determine the damages available under your contract. In some, the damages are limited to the earnest money deposit and moat of that goes to the realtor. In others, you can force performance or collect substantial damages. The contracts are not all the same, and... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: Hello. We terminated our contract with previous realtor. Within the extension time of 180 days for that contract...

...we have an offer with a second realtor. Will they share the 5% commission?

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on May 18, 2019

You need to review the listing agreement. The current standard MAR contract included a clause that eliminated the commission claim of the prior realtor once a replacement realtor was signed as agent. Another form I recall seeing only applied that after the term of the original listing contract... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Contracts and Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Are seller financing and lease option agreement contracts are legal in the state of Virginia?

Can a real estate investor offer these contracts to the seller and the buyer just as long as the contracts are legal and the investors has a title company or attorney to look over the contracts to approve them.

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on May 16, 2019

Lawyers don’t “approve” contracts. They review and advise their clients on the legalities of their dealings. After the advice, the contracting parties remain responsible for their choices, though they might have a claim against the lawyer if his advice was malpractice. If what you are doing... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Probate for Virginia on
Q: Probate law for Virginia. Do I need to hire an attorney to collect what I was owed by the estate?

A close friend and business associate recently past away and his brother is the executor of the estate. I have attempted to contact his brother many times over the past few months. At first he was communicative, but now he will not respond to email or telephone calls. Our business interests were... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on May 7, 2019

You need to file and pursue a claim timely or it is lost forever. The deadlines are strictly enforced. The effect is complete. I know if no basis for you to collect attorneys fees for pursuing your claim. You need to consult with counsel immediately.

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3 Answers | Asked in Contracts and Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Our condo was listed for 325k, we were offered 332k by a military couple. We took their offer.

Our agent assured us the VA appraisal would surely cover difference. VA app. 325k. Is the buyer legally obligated to pay what they offered?

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on May 7, 2019

You need to read the contract, but I believe the VA rider is conditioned on the VA appraisal.

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3 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: My house shares a chimney&both sides need to be fixed to correct water leak the other house is rental & no contact info

I have no correct contact info for the rental property company / owner. The chimney company says I can just get my side fixed but that will NOT solve the problem of the water leaking and they won't be able to guarantee the work just the materials. What is my recourse? If I pay to have the whole... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on May 7, 2019

It seems weird to me that you can't track down the owner of the other property to resolve this. The name of the record owner is a matter of public record both at the Recorder of Deeds and, less accurately, at the State Department of Assessments and Taxation. Then, running a search on the Internet... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Hi, if I want to evict my month to month tenant who won’t leave but pays, do I have to keep making repairs before court

My tenant is month to month. Our original lease ended 30 months ago. While the lease mentioned 60 days notice, now that it’s month to month, I assume I only need to give 30 days. He wants me to repair the broken windows and back door. I want to wait until he’s gone. Do I need to fix them before... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on May 6, 2019

You need to consult with a local lawyer, because county and city codes matter in landlord-tenant. Then, the lawyer needs to read the lease with particular attention to the Holding Over and Notice clauses. In Virginia, the lease will be read fairly strictly as written unless it violates local... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: my brother and I took the part of my dads half of my grandmother property my brother recently passed away.

my question is how can I make my aunt and uncles buy me out of the house or sell the house? My aunt lives there now and has lived there for years but when we received the house last year she never paid any taxes or water bill on it so that took money we were supposed to receive from my grandmothers... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on May 6, 2019

Get a lawyer. File a Petition for Sale in Lieu of Partition. Generally, the court will allow the fees as well as contribution for utilities to be reimbursed to you from the proceeds of the sale. As long as your title to the property is clear and the property cannot be partitioned, there are no real... Read more »

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