The Statute Of Frauds In Real Estate Contracts
When it comes to real estate contracts, it is essential to work with an experienced attorney, as real estate contracts are different from other property-related contracts.
Because real estate contracts involve property that is considered to be one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable, these types of disputes are typically more adversarial in nature precisely because there is no ability to find an exact replacement.
As a result, the law requires that any contract for the purchase of real estate be in writing so as to provide clarity in the event of a dispute involving real estate. This is known as the Statute of Frauds. Some real estate cases involving the Statute of Frauds can also involve additional claims, such as breach of contract, tortious interference with contract, unjust enrichment, and/or violations of consumer protection laws.
So what does a real estate dispute that involves a Statute of Frauds assertion look like? There could be claims that whatever was put into writing was simply too ambiguous, or did not satisfy the Statute of Frauds, and therefore the parties are not bound by any terms of an agreement. For example, if a contract (or letter, etc.) is missing a number of material terms, such as a lack of definitions, it can be insufficient to satisfy the Statute of Frauds. The agreement should also include terms of consideration or price, explain any and all relevant rights with respect to leases, and establish the parties’ obligations.
The Statute of Frauds also does not just apply to property sales: Similarly, a lease of land for a year or more must also satisfy the requirements of the Statute of Frauds, which means that it must be in writing and signed. Specifically, the Statute of Frauds requires that an agreement contain all of the essential elements of the contract such that the intent of the parties can be ascertained from the writing without resorting to oral evidence.
Ambiguities, Even in Writing
Still, even though real estate contracts must be in writing, that does not mean that they are always straightforward. For example, any dates and/or deadlines that are included in the contract are only enforceable if they are explicitly labeled as such. This is because dates – such as those associated with the closing – are automatically considered to be in “good faith” based on the intent of the parties to fulfill the intent of the contract without disputes arising over details like this.
However, if the parties want the dates listed to be enforceable, they can evince this intention by making it clear, in the contract, that time is of the essence.
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At Kohl & Cook Law Firm LLC, our Columbus real estate lawyers cover all areas of real estate law, civil litigation, and consumer law. Contact us today for a free consultation and let us answer any questions you might have.