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James S. Tupitza
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James Tupitza’s Answers

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  • How do I get my name off the mortgage?

    My now ex-husband and I are co-owners on the mortgage of the house we had bought together. He has neglected the mortgage payment a few times since we got divorced. The house is listed for sale but has not yet sold. I am not able to get a bank to c...

    James’s Answer

    You can get your name off the mortgage in these ways:
    1) sell the house and pay off the mortgage;
    2) refinance of the existing mortgage;
    3) loss of the home in foreclosure.

    As you can see only option 1 will work.

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  • Issue with title search

    I'm trying to buy land in Pennsylvania. There was an issue with property taxes. The owner was delinquent on property tax and the property went up for tax sale. The owner tried to pay the tax bill before the tax sale, but the county wouldn't accept...

    James’s Answer

    Let's start with the nature of the pending appeal. Property owners who have their properties sold at tax sale often appeal to Common Pleas Court and claim there was a defect in the notice or process of the sale. I have filed countless tax sale appeals in several counties. The time for a decision varies not only between counties, but also within the same county. You have to understand that the judges in most counties are not sitting around waiting for the next case to waltz into the courthouse. There is a backlog in most counties.

    Since the prior owner is usually in the house, resolving the propriety of the tax sale is a little less pressing than putting a rapist or murder on trial. Even when the judge makes the decision, there is the right to appeal to the Commonwealth Court. I don't think I have ever been to the Commonwealth Court and not seen at least two or three tax sale appeals argued. That could add a year to the process. I have lost at the Commonwealth Court and taken a tax sale case to the Supreme Court. That would have added another year or more, except just before the Supreme Court ruled on our Petition for Allowance of an Appeal (there is no right in these case to appeal to the Supreme Court --- they have to give permission) the various parties came to their senses and reached a settlement.

    That is what needs to be done in your case. The buyer needs to get back his or her money and a little profit, and the property owner needs to feel a little pain or there will be no settlement. Get these people talking.

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  • I rented a storage unit and I was behind on my rent and they sent a certified letter for back rent

    The certified letter was written on June 15 and mailed June 16, I sent payment plus July and August payment and they sent the checks back telling me that my unit was cleaned out by a liquidator the first week of July, I have my original contract w...

    James’s Answer

    A lawyer will want to review the contract. If the landowner breached the contract, you may have a remedy if you can prove damages

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  • What if I can't get a mortgage to secure my high risk/high reward investment in a real estate development company?

    I am looking at an investment in a real estate development company. It is like a "hard money" loan--high interest, short term. But the underlying properties are already subject to bank mortgages, so all they are willing to offer me as security f...

    James’s Answer

    You sound like the perfect person. I have this island for sale; or perhaps the bridge.... You are being asked to sign an investment contract. Have you been given a private offering statement? I didn't think so. You are being sold a security by someone not familiar with the PA of federal securities laws. RUN RUN

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  • Real Estate sale, seller didn't disclose a mandatory requirement to bring property in line with township ordinance.

    purchased home 3 weeks ago. neither seller or realtor disclosed that the property was not in compliance with a township ordinance. I received notice from township that I have 30 days to bring home into compliance. can I make the seller pay for ...

    James’s Answer

    You can sue for failure to disclose if you can prove you relied on the misrepresentation or failure to make a representation when there was a duty to disclose. The problem might be that you, or your agent should have asked if the township required an occupancy permit on re-sale. If they dd not have this requirement, you should find an attorney familiar with failure to disclose litigation and the PA Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

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  • PA real estate repository sale - too good to be true?

    Good evening. I just learned about this, & it seems just too good to be true. Could you please tell me why everyone's not buying property this way? Could you please explain the possible risks? Thank you.

    James’s Answer

    Yes.....too good to be true. I looked up several local repository properties, and I imagine there would be no difference in Luzerne County. Here is a sample: a) a super fund site where the former owner hauled chemicals in his tractor trailer and cleaned the tank truck with TCE in his back yard for 20 years, depositing the residue into lagoons; b) a site with 6 buried gasoline tanks from the 60s; c) open space in a homeowners association community; .... do you get the picture? If the property was really a deal, it would have sold at the free and clear sale.

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  • Do I need a real estate attorney for adverse possession?

    I live on a property that borders property owned by a land trust. Technically my front yard and top of driveway is on their property but every property owner for at least 25 years has always maintained the driveway, lawn etc.... Now their trying t...

    James’s Answer

    First of all you do need a lawyer, and secondly you must be absolutely careful as to what you say. For example, if I represented the Land Trust, in trial this would be the first question: You would agree with me you have admitted in writing that the land in question belongs to my client? If you said no, I would have you read your own question.

    Let me give you the elements of adverse possession:
    * Continuous possession for more than 21 years; (you can add the time used by your predecessor in title ONLY if the area is described in your deed----not a likely event)
    * Hostile Possession --- not angry but hostile to anyone else's claim of title;
    * Open and notorious possession -- many cases use the phrase "flying your flag over the property as an owner";
    * Actual possession -- you regurarily are on the land;
    * Exclusive possession - the real owner cannot interrupt your possession.

    The best defense to your claim will be to attack the 21 years because you do not have the extra land in your deed. The next best attack will be on "exclusive" because someone from the trust will say they were on the property. HOWEVER read about prescriptive easement. (the land need not be described in the deed to add time (read about tacking)
    Do not make comments as you did in this question, as you will defeat the hostile element. Along the same line do not offer to buy the right to use the property from the trust.

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  • What type of attorney do we look for when trying to fight our mortgage company?

    Our current attorney has to step away from helping us since he has a family emergency that will keep him away for some time and we don't have time to wait. We were in the process of making our current mortgage company produce the note and they we...

    James’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Your case sounds like the case described in this Superior Court case: http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Superior/out/s68038_12.pdf Read the decision. The case is back in the Superior Court (I worked on the brief 4 hours ago). Who ever you hire, make sure they understand the issues raised in this case and those coming up in round two.
    A lender must either have 1) the original of the note, endorsed in blank, or endorsed to that lender ( if there is an allonge or extra piece of paper addressing the endorsement, it must be attached to the note and not disconnected); or 2) in possession of the note and in possession of every single assignment from the orgination of the note.

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  • Can a remainderman sell their property without the consent of a life estate owner included in the original deed?

    My life estate was transferred without my knowledge by my brother to his new wife's son which included all his land and houses. This happened in 2002 and I just found this out when my mother died a few years ago. She was the original owner and ...

    James’s Answer

    I am not sure I understand your question. Here is what you seem to be asking: You have a life estate. The remainderman sold her interest to your brother, who transferred it to his step son. The step son is going on the land acting as though it is his.

    First of all, the entire interest in real estate is fee simple. From the fee simple estate, a life estate was carved out for you. When you die, the entire fee interest will be held by the remainderman. Currently that person only has the right to get the property when your die and the right to not have you commit waste (Ie: tear down the cabin, strip mine the property etc) While you are alive, the remainderman has no right to go on the property except to confirm you are not committing waste. A remainder interest is freely transferable, but the new owner never gets more than the transferor had.

    Before you have a family problem, educate your step nephew on the law. Let him know he has to wait until you die (of course you don't want to encourage him to hasten that event!!)

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  • Do I need a real estate attorney

    The house that is attached to mine has been abandoned for over 5 years and is falling apart. The borough won't do anything and I need help. I have to move in 6 months and will have a hard time selling it.

    James’s Answer

    You and your neighbor probably have a party wall. The neighbor has a duty to maintain it, even if the house falls down. That said, the neighbor is probably long gone. If the house is so bad it is a total loss, you need to hammer the borough into condemning the house. If they tear it down, you still have rights in the party wall on the neighbor's property. Make sure they weatherize it if they tear the house down.

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