Commercial Real Estate Law in California
In San Francisco, 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 San Francisco, California are quite different from those applying to residential real estate.
Buyers and renters of residential property enjoy a large number of legal protections. Many of these protections don't apply to buyers or renters of commercial property.
For instance, residential real estate is covered by laws concerning rent control, living conditions, and other things relevant to buildings where people will be living. Most of these protections don't apply to commercial real estate, because the law assumes that the average business person is a bit more sophisticated in such dealings than the general population, and because a place to do business is generally less important than a place to live. However, the most basic protections, such as protection from fraud and deliberate concealment of defects, still apply.
Common Commercial Real Estate Law Issues in San Francisco, California
Financing: The majority of small business owners in San Francisco, California probably can't afford to buy much real estate outright, with cash paid up front, so most small business purchase commercial real estate with a mortgage. A mortgage is a loan taken out for the purpose of buying real estate, using that real estate as collateral for the loan.
Concealment of Defects: if the seller of commercial property acts to conceal a significant defect in the property, and then sells the property, he will be liable for any harm this defect cause, as well as the reduced value of the property, or the cost of repair.
Duty to Inspect: While buyers of real estate have some significant 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 usually 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 San Francisco, 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 San Francisco, 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 San Francisco, California attorney before buying or selling commercial real estate.