September 2016 Real Estate Law Newsletter


Strive to Stay Ahead of the Curve

The San Francisco Bay Area is the global epicenter of innovation. The entrepreneurial ecosystem allows for novel ideas to growth and thrive, fueled by advanced technology resources and robust venture capital networks. A key element of this ecosystem is an affinity for change — the concepts of test & pivot and rapid prototyping are well-entrenched in the psyche of the typical Silicon Valley employee. The most innovative companies stay in front of evolving market demands and industry trends, and are able to pivot when necessary to respond to change.

Law firms are not immune to change — from client expectations to new technologies to evolving judicial interpretations, law firms must be agile in their response to an ever-changing legal landscape. Thus, in this month’s edition of our real estate law newsletter, we focus on the theme of staying on top of changes. As the leaves begin to change with the onset of autumn, you’ll learn about tree care and boundary tree disputes in the replay of our recent webinar. You’ll also receive the latest news on shifts in the real estate law ecosystem, from trends towards mediation in HOA disputes, to new commercial ADA disclosure requirements, to noteworthy reversals in long-held court precedents about foreclosure evictions.

Highlights in this month’s issue:

–Watch the replay of our firm’s tree webinar, presented in conjunction with master arborist Jeremy Tibbets.

–Understand the process of using mediation to resolve HOA disputes by reading Simon Offord’s blog article

–Get an update from Julia M. Wei on a 2012 foreclosure case that was recently reversed (in-part) on appeal

–Hear the podcast of Simon Offord’s appearance on the Brian Copeland radio show

–Check out recent blog articles published by Henry Chuang and Ashlee D. Adkins

–Catch up on recent updates from the firm, including half-marathons, speaking engagements, trips, victories, and more.

We hope you enjoy reading the September edition of our newsletter!

Webinar Replay

California enjoys a diverse population of trees and people, and the state places a high priority on conservation and natural preservation. As a result, trees are abundantly planted in urban settings — in parks, neighborhoods, backyards, and street medians. Often, trees are planted outside of their natural habitat, which causes not only biological and physiological issues for the trees, but also results in legal issues surrounding ownership, maintenance, and obstruction.

To advance a greater understanding of tree care & urban responsibility, Brewer Offord & Pedersen LLP teamed up with A Plus Tree, Inc., to present a webinar about trees in California.

During the webinar presented earlier this month, the expert panel of master arborist Jeremy Tibbets and real estate attorney Simon Offord discussed the importance of tree maintenance and care, as well as the legal considerations for planting, trimming, and removing trees.

You can watch a video rebroadcast of the webinar, as well as view and download the slides from the webinar, by clicking the “View Replay” button below.

HOA disputes

Disputes between a homeowners association (HOA) and an owner can be particularly contentious. To resolve these disputes, most CC&Rs have mandatory mediation provisions, stating that the parties must first try to resolve the issue through mediation, instead of costly litigation.

The process of mediation is more collaborative and less adversarial than the traditional litigation route — it attempts to help the parties arrive a settlement that is mutually beneficial and agreeable.

Because of the ubiquity of mediation provisions in HOA governing documents, and the growing popularity of mediation as a dispute resolution technique, attorney Simon Offord discusses the essential elements of HOA mediation in his most recent blog article.

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9th Circuit Update

In 2012, a lawsuit was filed in the federal district court of San Francisco, where a foreclosure investor and a borrower alleged that a foreclosure sale to a loan servicer should be rescinded. The plaintiffs brought forward a number of complaints, including TILA violations, but the case was defeated by motions for summary judgment brought by the loan servicer defendant.

The lawsuit in Jacobsen v. Aurora Loan Services (2012) was deemed frivolous; however, on appeal, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals released a decision earlier this month that affirmed the lower court’s ruling in part, but also reversed part of the ruling — thus allowing the plaintiffs to continue their fight on the trial court level.

Julia M. Wei discussed the appellate decision, and the reasoning behind the reversal, in her most recent blog article.

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On August 31st, attorney Simon Offord appeared as a guest on The Brian Copeland Show on KGO 810. The popular radio talk show is hosted by Brian Copeland, an award-winning actor, comedian, author, and radio personality.

During the real estate clinic, Simon spoke about trends in the Bay Area real estate market and answered questions from callers, along with a panel of local real estate agents.

You can listen to the entire podcast of this month’s show, including Simon Offord’s insights, by clicking the button below.




Court Allows Owner to Evict Tenant Who Has Filed Bankruptcy

Many previously-decided cases have held that an owner cannot evict a tenant who has filed bankruptcy, without approval of the bankruptcy court. Fighting the automatic stay is often a struggle for owners who want to remove the party that defaulted. However, in a recent 9th Circuit U.S Court of Appeals decision, the Court reversed a host of past decisions and held that a tenant no longer has an interest in the property once an owner or landlord obtains a judgment in an unlawful detainer proceeding. The case has been appealed to the United States Supreme Court, and Henry Chuang covers the case in his blog.

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Commercial Landlords Subject to New Accessibility Disclosure Requirements

California has seen an uptick in predatory ADA lawsuits, where landlords and business owners are being sued for accessibility violations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To counter the rise in these lawsuits, Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a bill into law that expands the disclosure requirements for commercial property owners. Commercial property owners must now disclose to tenants whether the property has been inspected by a Certified Access Specialist. Ashlee D. Adkins discusses the new law more in-depth in her most recent blog article.

Read More


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  • Julia M. Wei traveled to London & Paris; while in Paris, Julia ran the inaugural Disneyland Paris 1/2 Marathon, successfully completing her 6th half marathon — Congratulations Julia!

  • Simon Offord presented to members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) at the Palo Alto District Tour meeting about tree & boundary disputes, in conjunction with Jeremy Tibbets from A Plus Tree, on September 9th
  • Henry Chuang was a guest lecturer at Lincoln Law School on the topic of real estate contracts on September 26th
  • Charlie Bronitsky and Ashlee D. Adkins successfully completed a commercial unlawful detainer action for an office warehouse property in San Carlos by negotiating a settlement between the landlord and the tenant
  • Office Manager Jessica Urioste and her boyfriend enjoyed a week-long camping trip in the Grand Canyon, which included stops in Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park
  • On September 27th, Director of Marketing Clayton Dodds was a featured speaker for a webinar about creating content, produced by the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) Small & Solo Firm section
  • Ashlee D. Adkins and Charlie Bronitsky successfully avoided trial on behalf of a commercial tenant client by reaching a favorable settlement during the pre-trial mandatory settlement conference
  • Henry Chuang and his husband Jordan Bowler enjoyed a week-long vacation in Spain, which included visits to Seville, Madrid, Granada, Toledo, Cordova, and the Alhambra
  • On August 31st, Simon Offord appeared as a guest on the Brian Copeland Show’s monthly real estate segment, which aired on KGO810
  • Julia M. Wei began her semester as professor of real estate law at Lincoln Law School in San Jose
  • Henry Chuang successfully completed a partition action for a residential property in Los Angeles County, where the other party agreed to sale immediately after the lawsuit was filed, after refusing to sell for many years



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