News

AirBnB Hosts Say City of Nashville Violated Court Order

A group of Airbnb hosts suing the city of Nashville say Mayor David Briley's administration violated a court order by trying to stop them from renting their homes out online, The Tennessean reports. During a hearing today, attorneys for some of the hosts said the city should be held in contempt of court. Dozens of hosts sued in January after the city tried to revoke their short-term rental permits, which were issued by mistake. On Feb. 11, a judge signed an agreed order saying Metro must allow the hosts to continue renting their homes until the legal matter was settled. But on Feb. 15, Metro sent the hosts letters saying their permits were revoked, and that "the law requires you to immediately cease operations as a short-term rental."
read more »

Next Thursday: Business Law Forum

Register now for the TBA Business Law Forum 2019.
 
This program will help business lawyers learn and refresh their knowledge about issues that may arise when drafting an LLC operating agreement. Topics will include an overview of the two extant Tennessee LLC acts and a comparison of those acts with the Delaware LLC Act; other distinctions of Tennessee law that impact the operating agreement; drafting key provisions, including distribution and allocation, employee and member compensation, and exit rights; and ethical considerations for lawyers drafting LLC operating agreements.
 
When: Thursday, May 9. Registration begins at 9 a.m.
Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 Fourth Ave. N., Nashville

read more »

Memphis Anti-Blight Lawsuits List Addresses as Defendants

Some of the defendants in a new batch of anti-blight lawsuits filed by the City of Memphis Thursday are the addresses of the properties, The Daily Memphian reports. The University of Memphis Law School Neighborhood Preservation Clinic filed 29 lawsuits with the General Sessions Court Clerk’s office on behalf of the city. Since many of the lots are vacant, the owners of the property are not the defendants — "we are literally suing the property," said Daniel Schaffzin, co-director of the clinic. That allows a receiver to be appointed for the property while the sometimes arduous process of finding the owner is undertaken.
read more »

Don't Blame Looming Recession on Slump in Residential Real Estate

The threat of a looming recession is not the fault of a sluggish real estate market, despite conflation by many economists, The New York Times reports. Though the United States has experienced 11 recessions since World War II, only two were precipitated by housing market decline. The sector often receives the brunt of the blame as it is more volatile than others, however, residential real estate accounts for only about 3 percent of economic output during recessions. Though the buying slump is a reality, this is likely a byproduct more than a driving factor — owing much to rising prices of existing homes in most markets, with the construction of new dwellings grinding to a screeching halt.

read more »

Legislation Affecting Real Estate Practice

As the legislative session progresses, many bills of interest to dirt lawyers are on the move. Here is a list of notable legislation which has the potential to affect your practice area:
 
Rights of survivorship. Allows creation of a joint tenancy with right of survivorship and requires any share of a descended tenant to go to the surviving one.  

Taxation of residential property based on tree density. Requires that tree density is considered as a factor in determining residential property value and the respective taxation in Davidson and Shelby Counties.

Requires landlords provide email addresses. Requires a landlord to provide certain local governmental agencies responsible for enforcing building codes the landlord's email address, in addition to name, telephone number, and physical address. 

Notice landlord regarding change of tenant's email address. Requires a tenant to notify the landlord within ten days of a change of email address. 

Addresses tenant and landlord email notification. Allows a tenant to rescind the use of an email address provided in the rental agreement by written notice to the landlord. Broadly captioned.

Requires register of deeds send written notice to the property owner before recording a lien. Requires the register of deeds to send written notice to the property owner prior to recording a lien.

Removes certain state provisions regarding property tax. Eliminates certify valuation to local officials, authority to place liens, and issue distress warrants for state property tax.

Payment rights of contractors and subcontractors. Prohibits a written contract to have a condition precedent for payment clause where the prime contractor is not required to pay the remote contractor due to contract, or until they are paid by the construction owner. 

Requires baby changing station in new buildings. Adds at least one baby diaper changing station that is accessible to both men and women for new public bathrooms in any public building that is owned or operated by a public entity. 

Certification for electrical inspects contracted by local or state government. Requires electrical inspectors employed by a local or state government to be certified by the state fire marshal and for this certification to be completed every three years. 

Creates a registry of tenants evicted through writs of possession. Directs the housing development agency to create a registry of tenants who have been evicted through the execution of a writ of possession, which will be accessible to landlords in this state. 

The requirement of notice from the delinquent tax attorney relative to property tax. Requires the delinquent tax attorney to pose a copy of the proceeding and send a copy by first-class mail addressed to “occupant” at the last known municipal address of the parcel. 

Authority to impose a monitoring inspection fee on each manufactured home. Removes the authority to impose a monitoring inspection fee on each manufactured home produced in Tennessee from the commissioner of commerce and insurance.

An increase of the homestead exemption. Creates a homestead exemption for agricultural land, increases aggregate value of real property homestead exemptions while establishing that, in 3-year intervals, the fiscal review committee will recommend to the general assembly increases in the homestead exemption.

Service of process. Adds a private process server to the list of individuals authorized to personally serve a copy of a warrant or summons on behalf of a landlord in an action for forcible entry and detainer to regain possession of such landlord's real property.

Time-share and vacation club property. Classifies time-share and vacation club property that includes an interest in real property as residential property. 

Increases time allotted for a home seller to refund a buyer. Increases from 10 days to 15 days the time frame which a buyer is required to refund payments to the buyer when a home solicitation sale has been canceled or an offer to purchase was revoked.
read more »

Gov. Lee Provides Avenue for Public Feedback on Legislation

Gov. Bill Lee has taken an additional step in his commitment to “an open and transparent government,” creating a webpage for the public to view and provide feedback on legislation that has been submitted to him for consideration. Lee maintains that involving Tennesseans into the process more directly will increase accountability in how laws are made. The site will be updated regularly, as bills pass the Legislature and land on his desk.

read more »

Why All Apartment Buildings in America Look the Same

Wood-framed balloon structures have become a ubiquitous part of our cityscapes, seemingly popping up overnight and changing the face of urban and suburban areas across America. No matter where you are, the buildings are ostensibly homogenous — blocky, colorful and three to seven stories tall. Bloomberg News examines the rise and controversy surrounding these ’stick framed’ structures, including why some municipalities seek to curb construction of the buildings in densely populated areas altogether.

read more »

TBA to Introduce Legal Document Generation

The TBA will soon launch a new subscription-based product for Tennessee lawyers — automated legal forms. The initiative will use HotDocs, a custom documentation generator that creates form templates and speeds up the preparation process based on client and case data. In order to provide this valuable resource to our members, we hope to obtain your comments and ideas on forms you deem beneficial for replication. With across-the-board participation, we can comprise a substantive, comprehensive database where subscribers will have access to forms submitted by all TBA sections. Please send suggestions and comments to TBA Membership Director Mindy Fulks.

read more »

1-Click CLE Packages

Gain fast and easy access to annual updates with TBA's 1-Click options. Each package is listed by practice area. Updates included best practices, legislation, ethical consideration and practice tips.
read more »

Find Employment Leads on JobLink

TBA’s JobLink is a job seeking and recruitment tool available at no charge. Whether you have a position to fill or are seeking employment, this site will guide you through a simple process to post your information. Get started!
read more »

Protect Your Firm with Lawyers’ Malpractice Insurance

The possibility of being sued for a work-related matter is an unanticipated, yet ever-present possibility for every lawyer.  If this happens to you, how would you defend yourself and pay for the related expenses?  Fortunately, malpractice insurance can help protect you and your firm in such an event. The team members at TBA Member Insurance Solutions are well-aware of the risks you face every day as a lawyer and are dedicated to providing you with a malpractice policy designed for your specific needs.
read more »

TBA Weekly Legislative Update

The Tennessee Senate and House of Representatives are back in session and are referring newly introduced bills to the appropriate committees, which are primarily holding organizational meetings this week. The deadline for filing all legislation is Feb. 6, so there will be a flood of bills introduced over the next two weeks. The TBA Governmental Affairs Team will be reviewing all bills and begin the process of forwarding the legislation affecting the practice of law to the appropriate Section Executive Councils for review and feedback. Stay tuned for more info.
read more »

Creditors File Motion Challenging Lampert’s Bid for Sears

Attorneys representing Sears’ unsecured creditors filed a motion last week challenging Sears Holdings chairman Eddie Lampert’s $5.2 billion bid to buy the company, USA Today reports. The creditors’ committee claims to have uncovered facts that demonstrate misconduct committed by Lampert and his hedge fund, ESL Investments, which contributed to the retailer’s downfall. The bid needs final approval from a bankruptcy judge at a hearing currently slated for Feb. 1. Sears maintains that the sale will prevent liquidation and preserve 45,000 jobs; however, the creditors allege that the deal is part of a pattern that enriches Lampert by acquiring the company at a discounted rate. The court filing claims Lampert engaged in two controversial and complex financial transactions in which he acted as both lender and borrower. One of those deals occurred in 2015; 235 of the most valuable Sears store properties were transferred to the real estate investment trust Seritage Growth Properties, where Lampert is the biggest shareholder and chairman. According to a public filing, in 2017, Sears paid Seritage $109 million in rent, $43 million in expenses and $35 million in lease termination fees. The creditors would like to recover the value of the properties transferred to Seritage. ESL stated that all business transactions involving Sears were done in good faith and on fair terms with the approval of the Sears Board of Directors.

read more »

Sears Closures Add Millions of Square Feet to Commercial Real Estate Market

Beleaguered retail behemoth Sears is considering liquidation, which would add an estimated millions more square feet of unused commercial space nationwide, Forbes reports. Since it announced bankruptcy last October, Sears has either closed or plans to close 260 of its 700 retail locations. In 2015, Sears Chairman and former CEO Eddie Lampert created the real estate investment trust Seritage Growth Properties, seeking to capitalize on the real estate value of Sears’ holdings; however, there is no indication if this was done in light of bankruptcy considerations. 

read more »

Metro Council Approves Infrastructure Funding for Nashville Yards Development

The Metro Nashville Council recently voted to grant preliminary approval for $15.2 million earmarked towards road, sewer and other infrastructure needs around the Nashville Yards project which will be home to Amazon’s HQ2, The Tennessean reports. The move also approves participation, easement and license agreements between Metro and Uptown Property Holdings, the building group in charge of development. Council member Kathleen Murphy — one of only three detractors — denounced the city’s interest in the infrastructure plan, saying that it was just "another incentive" for Amazon and that the money would be better spent on other projects throughout the city. The council will make its final decision regarding the infrastructure reimbursement on Feb. 5.

read more »

Oak Ridge Intends to Break Ground on Regional Airport Within Next Couple of Years

The much-anticipated Oak Ridge airport moves closer to reality, with city leaders hoping to break ground on the project within the next couple of years, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Since 2009, the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority has maintained the need for a general aviation airport in the city because of population growth in the area, and increased business travel needs from places like Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Coqui Pharmaceuticals Corp. Though Oak Ridge has seen plans for an airport come and go over the years, Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said that this plan "has legs.” It calls for a 5,000-foot runway, a partial parallel taxiway and approximately 40 hangars on the 171 acres of land acquired from the U.S. Department of Energy on the former K-25 uranium enrichment facility site.

read more »

Real Estate Investments Safer than Other Sectors in Flailing Market

Real estate fund investments remain relatively stable despite a mercurial stock market, The New York Times reports. As the S&P 500 plunged 13.52 percent in the fourth quarter, FTSE Nareit All Equity R.E.I.T.s Index — the leading index of publicly traded real estate investment trusts — lost only 6.1 percent, marking a 4 percent loss for the entirety of 2018, compared to an S&P 500 loss of 4.4 percent, including dividends, for the same period. The sector has achieved comparative stability through tangible assets, banking on office buildings, malls and warehouses.

read more »

Estate Planning & Probate Forum 2019

The 2019 Estate Planning & Probate Forum provides six hours of CLE, including an hour of dual credit. It will focus on timely, relevant topics to help you stay on top of trends affecting this area of law. Legislative updates and the ever-popular Clerk and Masters Panel will ensure that you leave with the knowledge necessary to advance your practice. Make a plan to join us on Feb. 22.

read more »

Federal Judge Rules in Favor of TVA in Eminent Domain Dispute

U.S. District Court Judge Harry "Sandy" Mattice on Friday rejected a challenge to the Tennessee Valley Authority's plans to erect a transmission line through farmland in south Meigs County to help supply power for a new $300 million load control center, The Times Free Press reports. Mattice ruled that TVA was within its legal right in its order of possession issued to Greg Vital to enter his property in preparation for seeking a right-of-way for the power line route. Vital is the president and CEO of Morning Pointe Senior Living and owner of hundreds of acres of land near Georgetown.
read more »

Local Government Section to Host Reception at Tennessee State Museum

The TBA Local Government Section will host a reception at the newly opened Tennessee State Museum following its annual forum on April 11. Attendees of the reception will meet with museum curators and receive a staff-guided tour of the brand-new facility. This event is open to all Local Government Section members and those interested in learning more about the section; forum attendance is not required. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to learn Tennessee history while engaging with TBA leadership. You can RSVP for this event here.
 
When: Thursday, March 28, 5 p.m., CST
Where: Tennessee State Museum, 1000 Rosa Parks Blvd., Nashville
read more »

Nashville Airbnb Host Sues Metro Government After Permit Revocation

An Airbnb host who had her permit revoked after Metro Codes found that it errantly issued more than 100 to property owners who did not meet certain requirements for short-term rentals is now suing the Metro Nashville government, The Tennessean reports. The rule in question stipulates that residential property owners in two-family units must live in one of the units and own both properties in order to operate as a short-term rental. Barbara Culligan argues that the revocation "will cause irreparable harm, damage to goodwill, and harm for which money damage cannot fully and adequately compensate." Her attorney is seeking a temporary injunction to halt the cancellation.

read more »

UT Studies How Municipalities Address Changing Street Names that Honor Controversial Figures

Two University of Tennessee researchers are studying how local governments treat requests involving name changes for streets termed after controversial historical figures, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Geography professor Derek Alderman and geography Ph.D. candidate Jordan Brasher, using Tulsa, Okla., as a study model, found that cities "don't want to inconvenience or disrupt business," which could delay the renaming process, and contend that "cities tend to put economic development and convenience and practicality over really repairing the wounds and really trying to do justice." Alderman said he feels that more public participation when selecting street names could help alleviate some of these issues. 

read more »

AARP Foundation Files Federal Class Action Suit Against Reverse Mortgage Provider

The AARP Foundation — through its litigating arm, AARP Foundation Litigation — has filed a class action lawsuit in federal court alleging that reverse mortgage provider Live Well Financial Inc. improperly paid the property taxes of customers with Home Equity Conversion Mortgages before the taxes were due, then demanded repayment out of homeowners’ personal funds under the threat of foreclosure. The complaint maintains that the company failed to provide the required notice to the mortgage holder regarding prepayment of taxes and in fact had no contractual or other legal authority to do so. Also named in the suit are Celink and Reverse Mortgage Funding LLC.

read more »

Memphis Proposes Registry for Rental Properties

The City of Memphis has plans for a real property registry intended to monitor and track rental properties, compile data and make focused decisions regarding allocation of resources to those that have a history of code violations, the Memphis Business Journal reports. The registry would require landlords to have a local, registered agent to consult regarding code violations and other matters in attempts to prevent blight and ensure accountability from property owners. This would be the first step for the city’s 3.0 comprehensive land-use plan, with prospective tax changes and other affordable housing measures on the horizon.

read more »

Metro Council to Consider Development Incentives Proposal

A Metro Nashville Council proposal would link economic and community development incentives to investment and support for affordable housing. Councilmember Fabian Bedne has introduced a bill which would require Metro to make matching payments to the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing when awarding incentive grants to companies seeking to relocate to the city, The Nashville Post reports. According to the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development, total incentive grants in the 2018 fiscal year were $1.53 million. The bill is set to be considered at next week's Metro Council meeting. 

read more »