Law 101 Series

Are Construction Contracts Enforceable if Not in Writing?

The major players in the construction realm do not, as a general proposition, routinely rely upon oral contracts on complex projects because of the number of issues, parties, and stakes that are usually involved. On the other hand, some projects may be so small or simple (or any number of other reasons may exist) that they may not be perceived to warrant the time and effort required to prepare a written contract.

Regardless, are oral construction contracts enforceable?texas oral verbal construction contract statute of frauds

In Texas, oral construction contracts generally are enforceable. However, they are not enforceable if they fall into or constitute any one of several categories under the Texas Business & Commerce Code including, but not limited to (1) a contract involving the transfer of certain interests in real estate; or (2) an agreement which isn’t to be performed within one year from the date of making the agreement.

Verbal construction contracts may make sense and be relied upon in some situations. In other contexts, they should be avoided — not only because they may not be enforceable, but because there could be other consequences, too, which are not discussed here.

But the fact that an agreement has construction as its subject matter does not in and of itself dictate whether it is enforceable if it is not in writing.

Change in Foreclosure Sale Dates

Texas public foreclosure auctionPublic foreclosure sales in Texas currently take place on the first Tuesday of the month.

Under a new law effective September 2017, foreclosure auctions in the months of January and July will instead occur on the first Wednesday of those months if the first Tuesday falls on January 1 or July 4.

All public foreclosure sales must take place between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

In our Law 101 posts, we define terms, phrases, or concepts with the goal of conveying core information in order to set the stage for more complex discussions.

Mineral Interest Liens in Three Sentences

texas oil gas water mineral interest lienA person who furnishes labor or materials in connection with digging, drilling, operating, maintaining, completing, or repairing an oil, gas, or water well, or an oil or gas pipeline, mine, or quarry, is granted a lien to secure payment.

The lien is asserted by timely filing a proper affidavit in the records of the appropriate county clerk’s office.

The claimant must foreclose the lien by filing suit, if the claim isn’t otherwise paid.

In our Law 101 posts, we define terms, phrases, or concepts with the goal of conveying core information in order to set the stage for more complex discussions.

Writs of Possession in Three Sentences

A writ is a written court order that commands the person to whom it is directed to perform, or refrain from performing, a specified act.

texas writ of possession

A writ of possession is a command often directed to a peace officer to remove people or items from property, or to dispossess people of property, and to deliver possession to another person.

Writs of possession may be issued in eviction cases, trespass to try title lawsuits, eminent domain actions, and other legal proceedings.

In our Law 101 posts, we define terms, phrases, or concepts with the goal of conveying core information in order to set the stage for more complex discussions.

What is Strict Foreclosure?

texas foreclosureIn Texas, realty foreclosures can occur with or without using the court system, depending on the circumstances. The former is called a judicial foreclosure. The latter, unsurprisingly, is called a non-judicial foreclosure. In either event, there is a sale of the property as part of the foreclosure process at which qualified bidders, including the lender, can bid to purchase the property.

In a strict foreclosure, there is no sale. Instead, a court orders the debtor to pay the lender money owed, and title to the realty vests directly in the lender if the debtor fails to do so.

Texas law does not permit strict foreclosures of real estate.

In our Law 101 posts, we define terms, phrases, or concepts with the goal of conveying core information in order to set the stage for more complex discussions.

Is Time Always of the Essence in Construction Contracts?

Whether it’s the construction of a new shopping center or a new home, many people assume that a construction time of the essence construction contractproject will be completed by a particular date. For example, the owner of that shopping center may anticipate a date that he/she needs to have the space finished in order to market it and thereby obtain a stream of income to defray his/her expenses. The owner of that home-under-construction may be without shelter if the home isn’t built timely.

Questions often arise around whether a project, or benchmarks leading up to the completion of the project, must be completed within a specific timeframe. Does the construction contract state an explicit completion date? Does it define what exactly constitutes completion? Does it express that time is of the essence? What if the contract attaches a proposed schedule but has no other reference to a completion date? What if that schedule was only an estimate but the owner of the project nevertheless relied upon its accuracy in agreeing to hire the contractor, investing in the shopping center, or selling his/her old home?

In Texas, time isn’t ordinarily of the essence in construction contracts. Moreover, a stated date for performance does not imply or mean that time is of the essence. The contract must expressly make time of the essence or there must be something in the nature or purpose of the contract and the circumstances surrounding it making it apparent that the parties intended that time be of the essence. Otherwise, the contract must be performed within a reasonable amount of time. And a judge, jury, or arbitrator may have to determine what “reasonable” means.

In our Law 101 posts, we define terms, phrases, or concepts with the goal of conveying core information in order to set the stage for more complex discussions.

 

 

Denied Access to Personal Property in Your Residence/Former Residence?

texas denied access residence retrieve personal propertyThis issue often arises in the common property, landlord-tenant, family law, and foreclosure arenas.

 

A person who has been denied access to his or her residence or former residence may apply to a Texas Justice Court for an order authorizing access to retrieve personal property under Chapter 24A of the Texas Property Code.

The applicant must:

  1. certify that the occupant of the residence has denied the applicant access to the residence;
  2. certify that the applicant is not prohibited by law (including a protective order) from entering the residence;
  3. allege that the applicant, or the applicant’s dependent, requires one or more of the following personal items contained in the residence: (a) medical records; (b) medicine and medical supplies; (c) clothing; (d) child-care items; (e) legal or financial documents; (f) checks or bank or credit cards in the name of the applicant; (g) employment records; or (h) personal identification documents;
  4. allege that the applicant or the applicant’s dependent will suffer personal harm if the items listed in the application are not retrieved promptly;
  5. include documentation that shows the applicant is currently, or was formerly, authorized to occupy the residence; and
  6. execute a bond payable to the occupant in an amount set by the judge.

The Justice Court may issue an order authorizing the applicant to enter the residence accompanied by a peace officer to retrieve the property listed in the application (a) on sufficient evidence of urgency and potential harm to the health and safety of any person; and (b) after sufficient notice to the current occupant and an opportunity for both parties to be heard by the Court.

What happens if the order is granted but the applicant takes personal property that isn’t expressly permitted by the  order or that isn’t owned by the applicant?

Stay tuned!

In our Law 101 posts, we define terms, phrases, or concepts with the goal of conveying core information in order to set the stage for more complex discussions.