Ice, Ice Baby (Vanilla Ice, To The Extreme, 1989)

Last Updated on Sunday, 14 February 2021 11:35 Written by Chris Griswold Sunday, 14 February 2021 11:35

Icy, snowy, slippery sidewalks (say it 3 times fast).  We’ve all seen our share this winter.  In response to a large number of inquiries I’ve received from concerned hotel, restaurant, office and retail owners and tenants, as well as the several requests I’ve received from our local insurance underwriting community that I write on the topic, I wanted to write a short piece in the hopes it saves some of you needless worry and, possibly, money.  Accordingly, I’ll answer the two most commonly asked questions from the groups mentioned above.  This should be helpful to everyone… (and don’t forget to click on my Facebook or YouTube links below to also see my short video on this material).

Ice, Ice Baby (Vanilla Ice, To The Extreme, 1989)

Question #1:  “If I put out snow melt on my sidewalks, does it somehow serve as an admission of guilt if someone should subsequently slip and fall on the premises?

Answer:           No.  The very act of putting out snow melt, etc… in an effort to prevent people from slipping, falling and hurting themselves cannot later be used against you.  In other words, you can’t use someone’s efforts to avert an accident against them later on if and when the accident occurs.  If you could, it would be tantamount to saying “…I’m suing you for trying to help me.”  Now, there are other relevant factors including, but not limited to, whether or not another person slipped and fell in the same area just before the plaintiff slipped and fell, whether you put out enough – and many others.  However, the fact that you put out snow melt, in and of itself, is not an admission of guilt; nor can it later be used against you in showing negligence.  Accordingly, don’t be afraid to put out snow melt when the weather gets bad.  However, and most importantly, when you put it out, put out enough to really do the job (including getting out your shovel if need be so the area(s) in question are clean, clear and safe).

Question #2:  “When should I put out snow melt?

Answer:          It depends.  Actually, the legally correct answer to this question is “when it’s reasonable to do so.”  Say what??!  I know…, it’s legalese and not really clear.  However, you can pretty much nail it down if you ask yourself the following question: Given the current weather conditions; if my mother came to see me at work today, should I put out snow melt?  If the answer is yes, put it out.  Otherwise, don’t sweat it.

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“Chris Griswold was instrumental in negotiating a very solid, long-term lease for our bank branch in Oklahoma City.  His industry knowledge helped us avoid several potential pitfalls with a landlord that was somewhat difficult at times.  It was a pleasure to work with Chris because of his professional style and easy going demeanor.”
Charlie Crouse / Simmons Bank / Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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Residential Home Sale/Purchase/Lease Warranties Discussion

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 January 2021 02:56 Written by Chris Griswold Thursday, 21 January 2021 02:56

I’ve been asked to be involved in a number of larger, residential home sales and purchases during this, low-interest-rate, home-buying/refinancing window.  A few things have caught my eyes regarding the warranties that certain sellers or builders afford their buyers in the process and I wanted to address them for everyone’s benefit.  From the questions I normally receive, I wanted to share these with everyone (and for the benefit of everyone).  This is good stuff for everybody to know… (don’t forget to click on my link above to also see my short video on this material).

Residential Home Sale/Purchase/Lease Warranties Discussion

Warranty of habitability.  This warranty is one that does not apply to commercial property, but it does apply to residential property.  In commercial property, there is no reasonable expectation a buyer or tenant can have that the property they are buying or leasing is suitable, intended, fit and designed to be lived in.  However, in residential home leases or purchases, there is a warranty of habitability available for a buyer or tenant to rely upon when entering into the transaction.

In fact, in a residential lease or purchase, this warranty of habitability is implied, even if it is not addressed (i.e., written out) within the lease or purchase contract.

Accordingly, whether you’re a realtor representing buyers or a homebuyer, don’t gloss over giving up your right (or your clients’ rights) to insist that, especially when buying a new home from a home builder, such home come with a warranty of habitability.  Why?  You (or your clients) might later rely upon this written or unwritten warranty when pursuing a remedy for some sort of defective, usually latent (i.e., hidden) condition in such new home.

This warranty, since it applies to dwellings, is a consumer remedy, not a commercial business one.

Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose This warranty, while I’ve seen it used in real estate (i.e., real property) sale or purchase deals and leases, is really more aimed at consumer, personal property purchases or leases – not real property purchases or leases.

The warranty says that a certain good or product is intended and suitable to be used in connection with a certain purpose or activity.  There are situations and circumstances whereby this warranty can be relevant to a real property transaction, however, if it’s a residential home deal, the purpose usually goes back to a warranty of habitability.

In otherwords, the purpose of the real property being leased or purchased is to live in it…, not to address that some other specific kind of purpose or activity.  So, oftentimes, this warranty is not a relevant or important aspect of the transaction.

Like habitability, it is also implied, and protects a consumer purchaser or lessee.

Warranty of Merchantability.  This warranty, without getting into too much legalese, is very much like the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose directly above.  Accordingly, this warranty applies more to personal property purchases and leases – not real property ones.

Like the other two warranties above, this warranty is also implied, and protects a consumer purchaser or lessee.

So why are all 3 warranties so often seen and included within residential real estate deals?  Because home leasing and buying is a consumer event.

However, the warranty most relevant to a real property transaction, and the one you (as the realtor or the homebuyer or tenant) don’t want to waive and give up is the warranty of habitabilityWhy?

You or your client may eventually need it should problems later arise relating to a defectively constructed property….

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“Chris Griswold is a good business attorney whom I’ve used often and much through the years, for both my business and personal needs, and whom I’d gladly refer to anyone.  He’s creative, prompt, eager to help and very competent.  He’s good at what he does, he has fun doing it, and it shows up in his work through his good problem solving skills.  I look forward to a long and  continued relationship with Chris and his firm for a long time to come.”
Edward F. Wells / President, Wells Nelson & Associates / Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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Quiet Title Q & A

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 September 2019 07:14 Written by Chris Griswold Tuesday, 17 September 2019 07:14

Buying or selling commercial or residential property?  If so, odds are you’ll likely come across the need to do a quiet title action – whether sooner or later.  I get calls on these regularly so I thought I’d answer some commonly asked questions surrounding them for inquiring minds.  Read more below (and don’t forget to click on my Facebook link below to also see my short video on this material).

Quiet Title Q & A

Without attempting to cover everything, I wanted to cover some of the more commonly asked questions that relate to this area of law, because most people have questions on these below:

First, what usually creates the need to do a quiet title action?  Usually, you’ll either be the buyer or seller and a title commitment will be obtained from a local, title insurance firm.  On the commitment, either Section B-I or B-II will set forth either a requirement or an exception to the title insurance coverage (known as a cloud, encumbrance or lien upon title).  This will lead the title company to instruct/inform you of the need to do a quiet title action – before such title insurance company will insure title (for the benefit of buyer) to the contemplated purchase (which is always a policy of insurance equal to the amount of the purchase price of the property to be purchased).

Second, who pays for the quiet title action?  Whoever is liable for such expenses as set forth under the purchase-sale agreement, although it’s usually the seller (since the issues arose during seller’s reign of ownership, or before).

Third, how much time should you provide (prior to closing) in order for the quiet title action to be completed?  Remember, a quiet title action is usually a type of lawsuit that has to be filed and finalized in the District County Court of where such property is located, and that takes time.  With uncontested issues, it should take 90-120 days; with contested issues, it can take longer.  Upshot?  Be sure the purchase-sale agreement provides at least an initial 90-120 days for the issues/clouds/encumbrances/liens upon such title to be cleared, subject to further written agreement (for additional time extension) by the parties.

Fourth, is there anything else to remember when doing a quiet title action, any possible surprises?  Keep in mind, a title commitment is only good for usually 180 days (just like an ALTA land survey), so, a long and protracted quiet title action which takes longer than 180 days to complete, once renewed and brought up to date again, may then show newly discovered encumbrances upon the title to the property that need to also be addressed, also prior to closing.

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Darryl Meason / Broker Associate / NAI Sullivan Group / Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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