March 2014 News from Hecht Walker

Posted by Hecht Walker, P.C.
Posted on March 31, 2014

Issue Number 2, March 2014

March into Peak Real Estate Season

At this time of year particularly in both the residential and commercial arenas, there is a lot of real estate activity. Title headaches, boundary line disputes, quiet title and deed issues occur in greater numbers.

Whether your real estate transactions are commercial or residential, Hecht Walker is ready to help you resolve any title issues or disputes that may interfere with or hold up your real estate closings.

How to Reduce Your Attorneys’ Hours in 2014, Part 2

An Interview with Greg Hecht, Esq. and Mark Walker, Esq.
Part two of a two part article.
Advice from attorneys Greg Hecht and Mark Walker, principals at the Atlanta law firm of Hecht Walker, for the new year for businesses, local governments and other entities.

For Builders,  Developers and Purchasers

Builders, developers and purchasers of real property should work with cities and counties before buying property to determine if there are any local issues that will make permitting a problem, and to see if the design standards for the area are appropriate for the intended land use. Also, they should ensure that purchase contracts are contingent upon zoning appropriate for the property being purchased. Never count on a re-zoning to occur after the purchase. Once they  purchase the property, developers are stuck with the zoning in place at the time. In addition, if a change in the use of the property is planned, developers may lose any vested rights previously grandfathered for the property.

Also, it is important to check whether a potential purchase is within an overlay district. Overlay district designs and other requirements may destroy a proposed development and building budget as well as its proposed use. A developer can include a provision in the purchase agreement requiring the seller to materially represent that the zoning, design standards and district requirements are appropriate for the intended use, which should be spelled out in the contract. They should also be sure to have the latest set of covenants before entering into the Purchase and Sale Agreement.

Finally, builders should ensure that their workforce is I-9 compliant before entering a new jurisdiction. This includes determining whether the state has implemented a new work force development or workforce status check law. A project may not be feasible if the work force does not meet a local jurisdiction’s new work force development or status check law. (Read the Full Article)

Commercial Insurance and the Insurer’s Duty to Defend
By Joseph Cloud, Associate
Businesses have many different types of insurance policies available to them that cover all types of eventualities and losses. With the exception of automobile insurance, all commercial insurance policies are treated in largely in the same manner under Georgia law. Because an insurance policy is a contract, the language of the insurance policy controls what is covered under the policy. The common element to all commercial insurance policies is that they cover a business in case of particular types of loss or damage as defined by the policy.  Regardless of the type of insurance policy a business is making a claim under, whether Commercial General Liability (CGL), Professional Liability Insurance, or other policies covering specific circumstances or type of injury, you must first look to the language of the policy to determine what duty the insurer has to the insured.

In addition to covering certain types of claims, injuries, and damages, many commercial insurance policies include a separate “duty to defend” covered or potentially covered claims made against the insured. The extent of the insurer’s duty is determined by the contract.Loftin v. United States Fire Ins. Co., 106 Ga. App. 287 (1962). This is not an independent duty of insurance carriers under Georgia law, but many insurance policies include provisions requiring the insurer to provide either a defense of any lawsuit or other claim made against the insured if covered under the policy, or reimbursement for the costs of a defense of a lawsuit or other claim covered by the policy. Unfortunately, many insurance companies will rely on any rationale or possible exclusion in the policy to deny an insurance claim or to avoid providing for the cost of a defense of a lawsuit. (Read the Full Article)

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