Most business and real estate attorneys assume that the statute of limitations on an oral contract is two years, and on a written contract is 4 years. These are boilerplate assumptions that can trap a businessperson or a landlord; they do not always hold true once we delve into the specifics of a case.
We recently represented a borrower in a foreclosure action brought by the lender bank where no payments had been made on the loan for over 4 years, without any remedial or collection action initiated by the lender. The loan had been bundled, sold and assigned several times and with no lender follow up for some unknown reason. The assumption on the part of the borrower was that passing the four-year mark changed the nature of the dispute. So we took a closer look to confirm whether the statute of limitations could serve as a possible defense. We found that not to be the case. The limitations period on a promissory note is 6 years rather than 4:
Pursuant to California Commercial Code Section 3118(a),
an action to enforce an obligation of a party to pay a note payable at a definite time must be commenced within 6 years after the due date or dates stated in the note or, if a due date is accelerated, within 6 years after the accelerated due date.
This is another example of the trap waiting for both experienced and new attorneys faced with a statute of limitations issue, which can often be more complicated than realized at first glance. And this trap is contained not only in the California Code of Civil Procedure but in other statutes as well.
This loan was a leftover from the days of the Great Recession when loans were bundled, sold and assigned to unsuspecting investors without proper due diligence by the investors and rating agencies, and were serviced by loan servicers with less than diligent follow up. We find it incredible that we continue to see cases involving these types of loans 11 years after the Great Recession hit in 2008.
As we start work in 2019 in earnest, the commercial leasing market remains very active. We find ourselves representing a number of commercial landlords and tenants in connection with long-term commercial leases. One area in which we are adding great value is in the examination of “boilerplate language” within a proposed agreement that actually needs customization to protect our clients’ interests.
Great Commercial Lease Agreements Contain No Boilerplate
Most recently we represented a well-established auto body shop that sold its business to a national auto body and collision repair chain. As part of that transaction, the new owners leased the building that our client, the seller, owned to become the client’s tenant. Continue reading
The method you choose for holding title on your real estate property in California can have unexpected legal and tax consequences, especially years from now when death or disagreement brings change to the relationship between the co-owners.
Given these distant, hard-to-imagine impacts, choosing how title is vested by the co-owners is often an afterthought (or even overlooked)! But the consequences of improper vesting can be devastating. Typically, problems do not arise until many years after the recording of the grant deed that includes the improper vesting. Then, the improper vesting suddenly becomes a problem upon the attempted sale or refinancing of the property, or upon the death or dissolution of marriage of one (or more) of the owners.
The method of holding title is particularly important in partnership and co-ownership situations to make sure that the business agreement of the partners or co-owners is enforceable. Continue reading
Co-ownership of properties is a very common financial arrangement in real estate. With two or more persons involved in a purchase, their combined buying power can expand the number of properties that they can pursue. One party involved may also provide a higher credit score or more substantial assets that could win better loan terms.
Co-ownership lowers the business risk for both partners because it becomes a shared risk, rather than one which must be borne by a single person. However, these are long-term business relationships (even those between family members), and time can change the motivations of the people involved. Indeed, one partner may decide they wish to exit, and has the legal right to do so (more on that below.) Much can go wrong in a co-ownership partnership, if the possibility of these future issues arising is not accounted for in the initial partnership agreement.
How co-ownership can become problematic Continue reading
One of the most frustrating areas of maintaining a successful business is collecting on receivables. It has been said that “a sale to a customer is no more than a gift, until the payment for it has been collected and gets deposited in the bank.” Many businesses learn this truth the hard way, generating great sales and revenue, but suffering from terrible cash flow because payments due are not forthcoming in a timely manner.
Improving Debt Collection
It’s usually easier to buy an existing business than to start up your own. This is because everything is already in place, including a customer base. However, there are some things to look for when you buy a fully-operational business. Follow the tips listed below to give yourself a fair chance of success at converting someone else’s business into your own. Continue reading
Signing a commercial lease is a significant commitment for most businesses. Whether negotiating or renewing a commercial lease, it can be difficult to determine the best lease term for your business. Many companies settle for a “standard” 5-year term, which may be appropriate. But there are factors to consider that could make a shorter or longer term more advantageous for your particular business. The information in this discussion may be useful helping you arrive at an appropriate lease term. However, if you’re still not sure, the best approach might be to consult with commercial leasing attorneys to advise you. Continue reading
Purchasing commercial real estate in the Bay Area can be a solid investment. Whether you are considering buying property in Oakland, Pleasanton, San Leandro, or anywhere in the Bay Area you will likely find a wealth of appealing options available. However, you will need to consider certain details before signing a purchase agreement. The following are some of the steps worth taking prior to buying Bay Area commercial real estate. Continue reading
Have You Reviewed Your Trust Recently?
A common estate planning strategy prior to 2012 was to set up an “A-B” Trust distribution that created a Bypass Trust upon the death of the first spouse. The primary purpose of the Bypass Trust was to maximize a married couple’s total estate tax personal exemption. In 2012, though, the federal estate tax laws were substantially revised and, for most couples, simplified. Continue reading
Commercial Real Estate 1031 Tax-Deferred Exchanges Require Advance Planning and Coordination
To derive the maximum possible tax-advantaged benefit from a commercial real estate exchange, and properly comply with IRS Section 1031 Exchange timing and paperwork mandates, add an experienced legal advisor to oversee and coordinate the services provided by commercial real estate agents, CPAs and title companies. Continue reading