Owners of real property, or folks looking to purchase real property, often have a need for legal representation. This representation can take many forms – a qualified land attorney assists with due diligence processes, determining how property can be used, assisting with property disputes, to name a few.

A land attorney deals with land law, a form of law related to a property owner’s rights to use, sell, or exclude others’ use of their land. There are often other elements of law that land law touches upon. For example, rental agreements and purchase and sale agreements are governed by contract law. Environmental issues arise in the context of land attorney work, such as riparian water use rights and groundwater impacts from property use.

Municipal and state bodies are involved with matters that a land attorney deals with. These bodies create the local and state laws that dictate the use and conveyance of property. The argument for these types of restrictions centers on public health, safety and the environment.

In terms of uses, a land attorney can help a property owner or buyer to determine what class a property falls into. This is a useful benefit because usage is directly linked to how the property can be used, subdivided, or sold. The three main categories of use are residential, commercial, and industrial. There are, of course, other classifications. Each municipality is different. Hiring the right land attorney can save headache down the road!

Within each of the use classifications exist other restrictions, as well, such as dimensional setbacks, wetlands buffers, and mixed-use parameters. A land attorney practicing in land use and zoning laws are familiar with the types of challenges associated with varying restrictions and can provide legal advice on whether your intended use of a property is allowed under the applicable zoning code. The attorney will also coordinate with the property owner or developer’s engineers and architects to ensure that the design meets the requirements of the applicable zoning code.

Open space is a modern topic that communities deal with. The value of open space stems from recreational use, visual/aesthetic properties, and environmental importance. From a municipal perspective, providing open or green space can also result in a tax savings. A land attorney familiar with these tax savings can provide advice on how best to proceed in a taxation context.

For those property owners facing an enforcement action from municipal government, hiring the right land attorney is a must. Firstly, most cities and towns provide an appeal option before the local government body before the party receiving the notice of violation can proceed to state court. When deciding whether to uphold the enforcement action, the municipal appeal body must make findings of fact and conclusions of law. The appeals process at both the municipal and state level can be complex and having a qualified lawyer representing you is key.

To learn more about what services a land attorney provides, and whether you’re facing an issue that we can help with, call Desautel Law at 401.477.0023 today.

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