Thursday, March 31, 2016

Florida Appeals Court KO's Couple's Homestead Exemption Claim To Avoid Sale Of Family Home When They Had 2nd Thoughts About Selling & Attempted To Back Out Of Deal w/ Prospective Buyer

In Miami, Florida, the Daily Business Review reports:
  • Homeowners who backed out of the sale of their Miami property can't use the state's homestead protections to avoid the deal, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled [].

    Ali and Soledad Mirzataheri changed their minds after signing a contract agreeing to sell their three-bedroom house to FM East Developers LLC. They refused to close after FM East paid a deposit and completed property inspections, prompting the would-be buyer to file a lis pendens on the house and a lawsuit to force the sale and collect damages.

    In trial before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Samantha Ruiz-Cohen, the Mirzataheris won summary judgment on FM's claim for specific performance of the contract. But they lost their subsequent bid for an emergency motion to discharge FM's lis pendens or force it to post a bond.

    Both sides challenged the ruling. FM petitioned to quash the summary judgment. The homeowners argued the state constitution prevented FM from suing for specific performance of a valid agreement for the sale of their homestead.

    The Third DCA consolidated the appeals, reversed summary judgment and upheld Ruiz-Cohen's decision to keep FM's lis pendens in place.

    "Contrary to the trial court's finding, as a matter of law specific performance is not precluded by Florida's Constitution as a remedy to enforce a contract for the sale of homestead property where the contract is executed by both spouses," District Judge Leslie Rothenberg wrote in a unanimous decision with Judges Kevin Emas and Ivan Fernandez.
Source: Appeals Court Finds No Homestead Protection (may require paid subscription; if no subscription, try here, then click the appropriate link).

For the court ruling, see Mirzataheri v. FM East Developers, LLC, Nos. 3D15-1437, 3D15-2330 (Fla. App. 3d DCA, March 16, 2016).

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