Commercial Real Estate Law in California
In Portola Valley, California, "commercial real estate" is any type of land or building which is used for a business, as opposed to residential, purpose.
The laws covering commercial real estate in Portola Valley, California are quite different from those applying to residential real estate.
Buyers and renters of residential property enjoy a massive number of legal protections. Many of these protections don't apply to buyers or renters of commercial property.
For example, commercial real estate normally isn't covered by rent control laws, nor does it carry with it an implied warranty of habitability (because people typically won't be living in it). Furthermore, it also doesn't come with a covenant of quiet enjoyment. However, some of the most basic legal protections (such as laws against fraud, and concealment of defects) apply in both the commercial and residential context.
Common Commercial Real Estate Law Issues in Portola Valley, California
Financing: Most small business owners in Portola Valley, California don't have the money to buy real estate with the cash on hand. However, there is a solution to this problem, allowing people without massive sums of money (but with a steady income) to buy real estate: the mortgage. A mortgage is a loan used to buy real estate, and the real estate being purchased is used as collateral for the loan.
Duty to Disclose Defects: It is of the utmost importance that sellers and lessors of commercial real estate be up front about any defects that might be present in the property. Failing to disclose them can be bad, and actively concealing them can be much worse. In general, if a defect is serious enough that it would influence a reasonable person's decision to buy a piece of property, and the seller knows about it, the seller should disclose it. Failure to disclose can have serious outcomes. If the buyer later discovers the defect, they can sue for the cost of repairing it, or for any reduction in the property's value caused by it. And, of course, if it causes any injuries, the buyer can sue the seller for those, as well.
Duty to Inspect: While buyers of real estate have some considerable protections with respect to defects, they also have some obligations. Before finalizing a purchase, buyers are expected to undertake a reasonable inspection of the property, usually by using a licensed building inspector. If the buyer fails to conduct an inspection, they normally won't be able to successfully sue, if defects are discovered after the purchase.
Encumbrances: These are defects to title, rather than physical defects. They are legal issues which might make it difficult or impossible for a landowner to make full use of their land. In Portola Valley, California, these might include easements. An easement is a right to use property held by a party other than the owner. This use is often very particular in scope, such as allowing the holder of the easement to cross the property to access a public road, or something similar. Such rights usually have to be recognized and honored by new owners, so if they buy property not knowing about them, they might be seriously inconvenienced.
Can a Portola Valley, California Attorney Help?
Because of the complexity and importance of many of the issues concerning commercial real estate, it is almost always essential to consult with a Portola Valley, California attorney before buying or selling commercial real estate.