August 2019 Real Estate Law Newsletter

‘Under all is the land’, begins the Code of Ethics adhered to by real estate professionals nationwide. This phrase stands as an important reminder to professionals and laypersons alike that the stewardship of our public and private lands is a solemn responsibility, one dedicated to growth and enhancement of our local communities. Community is an important element to the real estate industry, in several forms. REALTORS® assist aspiring homeowners in finding the community that best fits their interests and tastes. Agents, brokers, escrow officers, and other real estate professionals work together in associations and committees to help advance the entire real estate community.

It is in this theme of community that we bring you our August newsletter. In this edition, we explore how a community of people can own property together in our upcoming webinar about holding title. We provide articles about co-ownership agreements for owning property and about resolving HOA disputes through mediation. And finally, we highlight just a few of our firm’s many community engagements from the past few weeks.

Highlights in this month’s issue:

—Register for our upcoming webinar about holding title to property as joint tenants or tenants in common, presented by attorney Lorena Roel

—Read blog articles about co-ownership of property and about mediation of HOA disputes

—See highlights from our recent community involvement, including presentations for FAREPA, SAMCAR, and SCCAOR

—Watch replays of our recent webinar produced for the American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA), about techniques for building a strong lease under California law

—Check out news and updates about the firm, including pro bono success stories, speaking engagements, leadership positions, successful client outcomes, and an update from Peter Brewer about his recent vacation to Italy

We hope you enjoy reading the August 2019 edition of our real estate law newsletter!

In California, real property can be owned by multiple individuals or entities. Ownership is reflected by “holding” title to the property. The way in which title to a property is held by two or more people can have a significant impact on ownership interests and rights. When property is owned by two or more people, it is common for the property be held either as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common. There are several differences between these two forms of holding title that are important to understand, because they affect survivorship, division of assets, and reimbursements.

Next Tuesday, August 13th at noon, real estate attorney Lorena Roel will be presenting a free webinar about holding title to property in California, specifically focused on Joint Tenants and Tenants in Common. Whether you a real estate professional, homeowner, investor, escrow officer, or potential buyer, this webinar will highlight key elements of holding title and will dissect important considerations when selecting how to hold title. In the first part of an anticipated series of webinars related to title, this presentation will focus only on Joint Tenants and Tenants in Common, including:

  • General mechanics for holding title to property
  • General estate planning considerations that affect an owner’s rights
  • Differences between joint tenancy and tenants in common
  • Process for creating a joint tenancy through the four unities
  • Default elements for joint tenants vs. tenants in common
  • Changing how title is held from one form to another
  • Title disputes and potential consequences under each form, and more!

Watch Now





Agree to Terms with Co-Owners Before Issues Arise

Co-ownership of property in California is quite common. Whether as friends, business partners, siblings, or unwed couples, many people enter into co-ownership agreements so that they can afford the high price of real estate. However, before entering into a co-ownership situation and signing an agreement, it is important for all owners to understand the terms and consequences. Simon Offord discusses how understanding co-ownership terms in advance can help prevent issues or disputes in the future in his most recent blog article.

Read More




The Basics of Homeowners Association Disputes – Mediation

Mediation has become an increasingly popular tool to resolve real estate disputes, including HOA disputes. Most CC&Rs contain a mandatory mediation provision as the first step in dispute resolution. Similarly, the Davis-Stirling Act — which is the central set of laws governing homeowners associations — requires mediation. It is important to understand how mediation fits into the legal process and how it impacts the ability to seek recourse and to recover attorney fees. Simon Offord discusses mediation as a tool for HOA dispute resolution in his blog article.

Read More



Filipino-American Real Estate Professional Association

On July 25th, attorneys Adam L. Pedersen and Lorena Roel gave a presentation about effective methods for handling transaction issues to an audience of agents and brokers from the Filipino-American Real Estate Professional Association (FAREPA).


American Apartment Owners Association

On July 24th, attorneys Adam L. Pedersen & Ashlee D. Gonzales presented a webinar for the American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA) about how to build a strong California lease.



San Mateo County Association of REALTORS® Agent Bootcamp

Attorneys Ashlee D. Gonzales & Kathryn L. Holt gave a presentation on July 9th for the San Mateo County Association of REALTORS® (SAMCAR) about earnest money deposit disputes. The presentation was the first in a multi-part agent bootcamp.


Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS®

Attorney Ashlee D. Gonzales gave a presentation on July 30th for the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® (SCCAOR) about legal techniques for rescuing real estate deals that are at risk of falling apart.


California courts are historically tenant friendly; landlords and property managers must be mindful of this tendency when drafting leases for their investment properties. Not only is the drafting of the lease essential, but the upkeep and renewal of that lease is just as important. The American Apartment Owners Association recently teamed up with the real estate attorneys of Brewer Offord & Pedersen LLP to present a webinar about best practices in drafting California leases. In this replay of the webinar, the attorneys Ashlee Gonzales and Adam Pedersen will guide landlords, apartment owners, and property managers through the drafting and upkeep process. The presentation offers a number of topics to specifically consider, including:

  • Choosing between a form lease or a do-it-yourself lease
  • Ensuring the basic requirements of a lease in California are included
  • Including disclosures, notices, and required information
  • Using addenda and amendments
  • Making modifications or changes to the original lease
  • Avoiding common pitfalls in drafting leases, and much more!

Watch the replay and download the slides by clicking the “Watch Now” button below:

Watch Now

  • After successfully defending his client at arbitration in a failure to disclose case, Simon Offord recently won a motion for attorney fees. The court determined that Simon’s client as the prevailing party should receive 100% of attorneys fees and costs
  • On June 26th, Ashlee Gonzales and Adam Pedersen gave a presentation about deposit disputes for agents at the Keller Williams — Silicon City brokerage
  • Attorney Kathryn Holt successfully negotiated a settlement in a landlord-tenant matter for a pro bono client
  • Over the July 4th holiday week, Director of Marketing Clayton Dodds traveled to Hart, Michigan to celebrate his great-grandmother’s 100th birthday
  • Simon Offord assisted multiple commercial property owners and tenants on issues related to new leases, ADA compliance, and negotiating new lease terms and provisions for both new leases and assignments of existing leases
  • On July 10th, Office Manager Jessica Urioste organized a program for the Santa Clara County Legal Professionals Association (SCCoLPA) about trial preparation techniques, which attorneys Ashlee Gonzales, Lorena Roel, and Katie Holt attended
  • On July 12th, Simon Offord spoke about common legal issues in real estate at the SCCAOR Friday Connect meeting in Campbell
  • On July 18th, Clayton Dodds attended the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) Bay Area summer social in San Francisco, in his capacity as the 2019 chair of the organization
  • Simon Offord has assisted multiple property owners in closing transactions for the sale of properties, both commercial and residential, in the last month. Simon has also assisted homebuyers in entering into co-ownership agreements related to their new purchase, which agreements outline the parties respective duties, rights and obligations


Peter Brewer, and his wife Laura, recently returned from more than a week on the Italian island of Sardinia. They were there to attend the 52nd Intersteno Congress, an international conference of stenographers. Peter’s wife, Laura, has won several world championships for stenographic speed and accuracy, but this year capitulated to the requests of her fellow competitors for her to give others a chance to win, so this year she (anxiously) stayed out of the competition and instead helped craft the tests and grade the results.

The conference was held in Cagliari, the largest city and Capitol of Sardinia, but the Brewers were able to travel around the island and see the countryside. Sardinia is a remote island, around 200 miles from mainland Italy, and is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily and before Cyprus). It has nearly 2,000km of coastline, sandy beaches and a mountainous interior crossed with hiking trails. Its rugged landscape is dotted with thousands of nuraghi (plural of nuraghe) – mysterious stone ruins shaped like beehives. The Nuragic civilization arose in the Middle Bronze Age, with nuraghe discovered to date back to 1500 B.C.

The island is beautiful, the food stupendous, and the people attractive and friendly [the Brewers each speak Italian]. There is, of course, bountiful amounts of pasta, but seafood also plays a prominent role in the local diet. Seafood there is not the tediously customary salmon found in the U.S., but instead interesting varieties such as squid, octopus, eel, and the ubiquitous Branzino, Mediterranean sea bass.

Peter departed Sardinia just in time because Mark Wahlberg celebrated his wedding anniversary with wife Rhea in style last week as the two went yachting on the Italian coast, and Peter did not want to distract from their celebrity.