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RE LEGAL TERMS

RE Legal Unit Terms

TermDefinition
answer Explains the position of the defendant and his or her view on the plaintiff’s allegations
arbitration Process in which the parties (and/or their attorneys) present their cases to an arbitrator, who renders a decision
black letter law Words committed to paper that govern
civil law Body of law imposed by the state or government for its citizens
codify Compile, arrange, systemize, and write the laws of a given region into a code
common law Body of law based on custom and judicial precedent rather than on codified statutes
compensatory damage Damages designed to compensate the injured party for the injury that was sustained
complaint Summarizes the plaintiff’s case against the defendant including the actual harm done and the demand for compensation for damages incurred
criminal law Law that concerns wrongs against persons or society.
defendant Person who is being sued
default judgment Occurs when a defendant in a lawsuit fails to respond to a complaint and the court then rules in favor of the plaintiff by default
deposition Live, oral testimony under oath
law Body of rules and principles that every member of society must follow
litigation Process of bringing a lawsuit against someone.
mediation Process in which a neutral, uninterested third party helps the parties involved in a dispute to negotiate a settlement or other resolution
plaintiff Person filing the civil suit in a court of law
precedent Concept of looking back at cases previously decided and following those decisions for the sake of consistency and fairness.
remedy Compensating the plaintiff for any injuries incurred
summons Written request that establishes the plaintiff’s position in filing a complaint and calls for the defendant to answer or appear in court
tort Legal wrong for which civil remedies for injuries or damages are provided
air rights Rights to the air space above the property
appropriative water rights Right to take riparian surface water for a beneficial use on non-adjacent property
appurtenances All rights, privileges, and improvements that belong to and pass with the transfer of the property, but that are not necessarily a part of the actual property
benchmark Survey reference mark made on a monument indicating a known location and elevation
block Contiguous group of lots generally bounded by man-made features, such as streets or natural features, such as creeks
bundle of rights All legal rights attached to the ownership of property
emblements Annual crops cultivated by tenant farmers and sharecroppers
fixture Anything permanently attached to real property
fructus industriales Annual crops produced by human labor, such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, and grains
fructus naturales Naturally occurring plant growth, such as grasses, trees, and shrubs as part of the real property
groundwater Water beneath the surface of the land filling the spaces and cavities between the rocks and soil
lateral support Landowners’ right to have their land in its natural condition held in place from the sides by adjoining land so that it will not fall away
legal description Written description of a particular parcel of land identifying it as precisely as possible
lot Single parcel of land within a subdivision
metes and bounds Oldest method used to describe real property
personal property Moveable items not permanently attached to land
plat Subdivision map showing the location and boundaries of lots, street rights-of-way, project name, and easements
point of beginning Point from which a metes and bounds survey begins
real property Land, anything permanently attached to the land, anything appurtenant to the land, or anything immovable by law
riparian rights Right of an owner of property bordering a surface water source to use the water
subjacent support Absolute right of the property owner to have his or her land supported from beneath its surface
subsurface rights Rights to the natural resources, such as minerals, oil, and gas below the surface
survey Professional measurement of a tract of land with its boundaries, contents, and location relative to other property
township Grid of square, each six miles by six miles (36 square miles)
usufructuary rights Rights limited to reasonable and beneficial use
interest Various rights, privileges, powers, and immunities with respect to real property
possessory interest Present right to physically occupy land and to exclude others from that same land
present interest Interest in land that can be exercised by the owner today
future interest Interest that cannot be exercised today, but which might be exercised in the future
estate The quantity, quality, degree, and nature of a person’s interest in real property that may become possessory
freehold estate Estate with indefinite duration or that is measured by the length of someone’s life
nonfreehold estate Estate with a fixed or determinable duration
fee simple absolute Freehold estate that includes all rights to sell, exclude others, finance, and do any other thing with real property allowed by law
fee simple determinable Freehold estate with present possessory interest in a grantee with a reversionary interest in the grantor
life estate Freehold interest that allows the owner to live on a parcel until death, but that cannot be bequeathed via a will
periodic tenancy Leasehold interest for an indefinite period of time
tenancy for years Leasehold interest with a fixed term and definite end date
encumbrance Interest in real property that is held by someone who is not the owner
financial encumbrances Encumbrance that affects title to property
judgment creditor Party to a lawsuit who obtains a money judgment against the other party
abstract of judgment One-page, recordable document that contains information about a court judgment
writ of execution Document directing the sheriff to commence a lien-sale of a parcel of real property
non-financial encumbrance Encumbrance that affects the physical use or condition of the property
easement Interest for use owned by one person in the land of another person
dominant tenement Land benefiting from an easement
servient tenement Land burdened by an easement
license Permissive use of land that is freely revocable by the grantor
appurtenant easement Easement that “runs with the land
easement in gross Easement that is a personal right of one person to use land owned by another
profit-à-prendre Right to enter another’s land to remove soil, substances of the soil, or other resource
CC&Rs Rules and regulations established for a parcel of land and accepted by the owner when the property is purchased or transferred
covenant Promise that a certain act will, or will not, be performed
condition Limitation imposed by a grantor in a deed that can cause the ownership of the property to revert to the grantor who imposes the condition if the condition is not satisfied
homestead property Home, occupied by a family, exempt from the claims of unsecured creditors
Declaration of Homestead Recorded notice to protect the equity in a home from forced sale by unsecured creditors
abatement Legal process used to remove nuisances and code violations
allowed uses Activities permitted within a zoning district as a matter of right
categorical exclusion Statutory exemption under the NEPA process given to small projects having no impact on the environment
CEQA California law providing a three-tiered environmental analysis of all projects subject to its application
coastal zone Area of land that reaches from three miles at sea to an inland boundary varying from a few blocks in urban areas to about five miles in less- developed areas
conditional uses Activities not allowed in a zoning district as a matter of right, but that can be allowed if the owner gets a special permit
discretionary projects Projects a decision-maker has the authority to approve, to approve with conditions, or to deny
eminent domain Power given government agencies to take private property for public use or purpose
environmental impact report Report required by CEQA regarding projects potentially having significant environmental impacts
environmental impact statement Detailed evaluation required by NEPA regarding the environmental impact of a proposed development
final map Map recorded in the county where the property is located
general plan The constitution for land use in each city and county in California
height limits How tall buildings can be above the average grade
legally nonconforming use An existing activity allowed to continue despite a change in the zoning of a parcel
ministerial projects Permits or entitlements an applicant has an absolute right to receive
negative declaration A finding by state or local agency that a proposed project will not have the potential to cause significant impacts to the environment
NEPA Federal law requiring federal agencies to consider the environmental effects of their decisions
police power Government’s authority to regulate the health, safety, welfare, and morals of its citizens
prohibited use Any uses not listed as either allowed or conditional
public restrictions Limitations on use of real property associated with government intervention
setbacks Limit on how close a structure can be built to neighboring property lines
spot zoning Zoning changed for a single parcel without considering the larger planning context
tentative map Map showing the conceptual design of the proposed subdivision and the improvements that will go along with it
variance Allowing a use not strictly in compliance with local zoning or building regulations
zoning Ordinance dividing a city or county into different districts, identifying what uses can and cannot be made on each parcel
zoning districts Areas showing all of the possible classifications that might be given to any particular parcel of land
adjoining landowners Persons owning lands that share common boundaries and therefore have mutual rights, duties, and liabilities
agreed boundary line Adjoining owners of property with an uncertain boundary set a new boundary line
boundary line Artificial or natural perimeter of a parcel of land, separating it from adjacent parcels of land
continuing trespass Permanent invasion on another’s rights
division fence Fence lying exactly on the boundary line separating two properties
light, air, and view easement Negative easement created by grant preventing servient landowner from building a structure or planting trees that would prevent sunlight or air from reaching the dominant estate
line trees Trees or hedges whose trunks grow on the boundary line
nuisance Activity remaining outside the property that substantially interferes with a person’s reasonable use and enjoyment of his or her property
nuisance per se Nuisance by statute or based on case law
party wall Partition erected on a property boundary providing common support to the structures on both sides of the boundary
private nuisance Nuisance affecting only a few people
public nuisance Nuisance annoying the whole community in general
solar easement Easement for the purpose of receiving sunlight across real property of another for any solar energy system
spite fence Fence exceeding 10 feet in height erected for the purpose of annoying a neighbor
trespass Intentional and unauthorized entry upon another’s real property
CID Project combining individual ownership of private dwellings with an interest in common with other owners
community property Form of concurrent property ownership that exists only between spouses
condominium Undivided interest in common in a portion of real property coupled with a separate interest in space called a unit
cooperative Form of CID in which a corporation holds title to all of the real property and owners purchase shares of stock in that corporation
corporation Legal entity viewed as a legal person (has rights) but not a natural person (has body)
general partnership Business entity established by two or more individuals or businesses, which join to operate a business for profit
interval ownership Timeshare ownerships
joint tenancy Form of concurrent ownership providing for automatic survivorship to the other cotenants upon death
PD Community of clustered single-family detached residences, townhouses, garden apartments, and other types of residences, with ample open space, community recreational facilities, and sometimes local shopping and employment centers
quasi-community property Property acquired outside of California that would be community property if acquired in California
severalty Ownership of a parcel of real property by only one person or entity
tenancy Mode or method of ownership or holding title to property
tenancy in common Ownership by two or more persons, whose interests are not necessarily equal, in a single estate
title vesting Evidence that the owner of land is in lawful possession; it is the proof of ownership
undivided interest Interest held under the same title by two or more people or entities, whether their rights are equal or unequal in value or quantity
alienation Voluntarily or involuntarily transferring or conveying property to another
deed Written instrument used to immediately transfer title to real property from one person to another
granting clause Words of purchase, such as grants, conveys, transfers, or sells Deed with no warranties
gift deed Deed whose consideration is love and affection
involuntary alienation Transfer of property against the wishes of the owner
foreclosure Legal procedure lenders use to terminate the trustor’s or mortgagor’s rights in real property to satisfy their liens
trustee’s sale Foreclosure method taking approximately four months
judicial foreclosure Procedure lender uses to sell a mortgaged property with the involvement of a court
deficiency judgment Personal judgment against a borrower for the balance of a debt owed when the security for the loan is insufficient to pay the debt
partition action Court proceeding to settle a dispute between co-owners by dividing their interests in real property
quiet title action Court proceeding to establish an individual’s right to ownership of real property against one or more adverse claimants
tax sale Forced sale of real property by the county to satisfy delinquent taxes
execution sale Forced sale of property to satisfy a money judgment
eminent domain Power of the government to take private property for public use
escheat Property reverts to the state because the deceased owner left no will and has no legal heirs
holographic will Will entirely in the handwriting of the testator
codicil Later testamentary instrument that supplements validity or disposition of an earlier will
probate Legal process to prove that a will is valid
executor Person named in a will to administer it
settlor Person who sets up a trust on behalf of a beneficiary
inter vivos Trust in which the settlor is still alive when the trust is established
intestate Term describing a person who dies without leaving a valid will issue Descendants of the testator
per stirpes Method of dividing property among the descendants of someone who has died intestate
adverse possession Obtaining title by occupying land for a statutory time period without the permission of the owner
accretion Gradual enlargement of land through the accumulation of sediment
avulsion Sudden, perceptible loss of land
constructive notice Notice given by recording a document
priority Order in which deeds are recorded
Business & Professions Code Portion of codified California law covering real estate professionals
Real Estate Law Law that affects the licensing and conduct of real estate brokers and salespeople
Real Estate Commissioner Head of the Bureau of Real Estate
payment of child support If not paid by an obligor, his or her license will be suspended
Recovery Account Account to pay otherwise uncollectible court judgments against licensees who have committed fraud or misrepresentation in a real estate transaction
real estate broker Person with a real estate license who can employ someone who holds a salesperson or a broker license
agent Role of a broker to his or her client
branch office Any business location other than the main office
DBA Acronym for a fictitious business name
restricted license Type of probationary license issued when a license has been suspended, revoked, or denied after a hearing
eLicensing Interactive online system used for license renewal and change transactions
Order to Desist and Refrain Court-ordered demand that prohibits a business or individual from carrying on a particular activity
Administrative Law Judge Person who makes recommendations to the Commissioner concerning discipline, after a formal hearing
commingling Mixing of the principal’s funds with the broker’s own
secret profits Money obtained by buying property from a client and reselling it quickly to someone else, rather than allowing the client to reap the benefits of the greater sale
moral turpitude Conduct considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty, or good morals
false advertising Promoting sales with inaccurate information
blockbusting Term for inducing panic sales
referral fees Money paid illegally in exchange for generation of business
solicitation materials Business cards, stationery, advertising fliers, and other materials designed to solicit a professional relationship between the licensee and a consumer
agency Legal relationship in which a principal authorizes an agent to act as the principal’s representative when dealing with third parties
fiduciary relationship Implies a position of trust and confidence
agent Person who has the authority to act on the behalf of another, representing the business interests of that person
principal Client who gives authority to an agent to represent his or her interests in dealing with third parties
third party Customer who may be affected by the terms of an agreement but who is not a part of the agreement
general agency Relationship in which a principal delegates ongoing tasks or duties to an agent under his or her employ
special agency Relationship in which a principal delegates limited tasks or specific duties to an agent under his or her employ
cooperating broker Selling agent who assists another broker by finding a buyer
dual agent Broker acting as agent for both the seller and the buyer in the same transaction
sales associate Licensed real estate salesperson or broker whose license is held by an employing licensed broker
right to control How much direction the broker exercises over the person the broker has hired
power of attorney Written document that gives a person legal authority to act on behalf of another person
ratification Acceptance of an act already performed
estoppel Legal bar that prevents a person from asserting facts or rights that are not consistent with what was implied by the person’s previous behavior
obedience Willingness to follow the orders of others
confidentiality Discretion in holding privileged information
material fact Any fact that would seem likely to affect the judgment of the principal in giving consent to the agent to enter into the particular transaction on the specified terms
misrepresentation Making a false statement or concealing a material fact
respondeat superior “Let the superior answer.”
Indemnification Protect against damage, loss, or injury, or to make compensation for damage, loss, or injury
Civil Rights Act of 1866 First federal law outlawing discrimination on the basis of race
Thirteenth Amendment Part of the Constitution that outlawed slavery and allows Congress to pass laws prohibiting private acts of race discrimination
restrictive covenant Clauses in deeds that prohibited the sale of real property to members of certain races or religious groups
Fourteenth Amendment Part of the Constitution that includes the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause
Commerce Clause Provision of the Constitution giving Congress the authority to regulate commerce among the several states
Jones v. Mayer Court case that upheld the 1866 Civil Rights Act
Civil Rights Act of 1968 Act that expanded protected classes to include not only race, but also color, religion, sex, and national origin
protected class Group that is guarded from discrimination under federal or state law
Fair Housing Act Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, taken together
familial status Relationship of people in a family
redlining Practice of not making loans for property in certain neighborhoods, or to members of certain minority groups
steering Practice of directing members of certain racial or ethnic groups to certain neighborhoods
Equal Housing Opportunity Poster Document that displays the equal housing logo
Americans with Disabilities Act Federal law requiring that persons with handicaps be given equal access to goods and services
public accommodation Any private entity that owns, operates, or leases a place open to the public if the operation of that place affects commerce
reasonable accommodation Change in a business’ policies, practices, or procedures if necessary to afford persons with disabilities the enjoyment of goods, services, or accommodations
Fair Employment and Housing Act California law that prohibits discrimination by employers and in real estate sales and rentals
police power California Legislature’s authority to pass any law that it believes is necessary to protect its citizens’ health, safety, welfare, or morals
Unruh Civil Rights Act California law providing that all persons in California are free and equal and entitled to the full and equal accommodations by all business establishments
Regulation 2780 Commissioner’s Regulation prohibiting licensees to violate fair housing laws
monopoly Person or group with exclusive control over a product or service within a given region
horizontal arrangements Business agreements between competitors
price fixing Agreement of one or more persons to set prices for goods or services
group boycotting Deliberate exclusion of a particular business or group from the benefits of competition
market division Two or more competing businesses agree to allocate the market among themselves
tying Illegal action requiring buyers to purchase one product or service in order to obtain another product or service
Sherman Antitrust Act Basic federal antitrust statute
Clayton Antitrust Act Antitrust act enacted to supplement the Sherman Antitrust Act
Federal Trade Commission Act Federal law enacted to protect the public from anti-competitive acts
Unfair Competition Law Ca.’s most frequently used consumer protection statute found in the B&P Code, Sect. 16720 est. bus. relationship Caller had a transaction w/ the receiver w/in the last 18mos.; or the customer has made an inquiry with the caller’s firm in the last 3 months
commercial email message Any electronic mail message with the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service
transactional email messages Emails sent as part of an ongoing commercial transaction
Equal Credit Opportunity Act Act ensuring that consumers have an equal chance to obtain credit
Regulation B Regulation that implements the provisions of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act
Fair Credit Reporting Act Act promoting the accuracy of information collected by credit reporting agencies
Truth in Lending Act Federal law requiring consumer loan agreements in which a security interest is acquired by the lender to contain certain disclosures
Regulation Z Regulation that implements the Truth in Lending Act
creditor Lender who regularly makes real estate loans secured by a dwelling and whose loans are subject to a finance charge
finance charge Amount charged to the consumer for the credit
annual percentage rate Relative cost of credit expressed as a yearly rate
right to rescind Right to cancel a real estate loan
Holden Act California law referred to as the “fair lending law”
redlining Illegal use of a property location to deny financing or insurance
settlement Process by which ownership of real property or title to the property is passed from seller to buyer
contract Agreement to do or not to do a certain thing
unilateral contract Contract in which the offeror bargains for the performance of an act as the acceptance of the offer
bilateral contract Contract in which the promises mutually exchanged by each party constitute the consideration for the contract
competence Element of all valid contracts that requires the parties to be over 18, of sound mind, and not deprived of civil rights
minor Person under the age of 18
offer Proposal indicating a present intent by the person making the proposal to be bound by a contract
lapse of time Way an offer is deemed to be terminated because the offeree failed to respond within a reasonable period after the offer
acceptance Manifestation on the part of the offeree to agree to the terms of an offer unconditionally
counteroffer Response to an offer that changes some term of the offer
mailbox rule Exception to the rule that an offer must be communicated to an offeree, making an acceptance binding upon deposit in the U.S. Mail
consideration Any benefit conferred upon the promisor in a contract that will support the formation of a contract
valid contract Contract with all required elements and is therefore binding and enforceable
parol evidence Oral statements made during the negotiation of a contract that are “merged” into a written agreement upon its execution
condition precedent Event, which if it occurs, excuses one party from further obligations to perform under a contract
condition subsequent Something that must happen before one party to a contract is obligated to perform
liquidated damages Term in a contract by which the parties agree that if one party breaches the agreement, their liability is limited to a specific amount
mutual rescission All parties to a contract agree to cancel the agreement and put themselves back where they started
breach Failure by one party to comply with his or her obligations under a contract
statute of limitations Time limit for someone to file a lawsuit or be forever barred from enforcing a legal right in court
laches Flexible time limit within which someone must seek an equitable remedy from a court
unauthorized practice of law Misdemeanor under Business and Professions Code §6125
contra proferentem Ambiguous terms in a contract should be interpreted against the party drafting the document
electronic record Record created, generated, sent, communicated, received, or stored by electronic means
electronic signature Electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record
listing agreement Written contract by which a principal, or seller, employs a broker to sell real estate
no deal, no commission clause Clause expressly stating that no commissions are paid unless the property actually sells
procuring cause Person responsible for the ultimate sale of real property so as to be entitled to a commission
safetyclause Clause protecting listing broker’s commission, if the owner personally sellsthe property to someone who was shown the property or made an offerduring the term of the listing
exclusive agency listing Listing in which the broker is entitled to a fee only if the seller does not find a buyer on his or her own
open listing Listing, not exclusive to one broker
net listing Listing between a broker and a seller setting the broker’s fee above a certain minimum amount
buyer representation agreement Employment contract between a buyer and a broker
purchase agreement Original purchase contract between the buyer and seller
option Contract to keep an offer open for a set period of tim
optionee Person who wants to purchase or lease property under an option
red flag Something that alerts a reasonably observant person of a potential problem
material facts Items that would affect the value or desirability of the property
Agency Relationship Disclosure Act Act clarifying the relationships between sellers, brokers, and buyers
caveat emptor Let the buyer beware
Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement Detailed statement telling what the seller knows about the condition of the property
Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement Prescribed statement warning prospective buyers about 6 specific hazards that may limit the ability to develop the real property, to obtain insurance, or to receive assistance after a disaster
flood hazard boundary maps Maps identifying general flood hazards within a community
inundation map Map indicating areas that may flood as the result of a dam failure
fault creep Movement along an earthquake fault caused by stress and/or earthquake shaking
asbestos Mineral fiber that causes lung and stomach cancer
radon Colorless cancer-causing gas detected with a spectrometer
lead Mineral that causes major health problems, especially learning disabilities
formaldehyde Chemical organic compound found in building materials, which may be a carcinogen
hazardous waste Chemicals, explosives, radioactive, or biological materials whose disposal is regulated by the EPA
household hazardous waste Consumer products (paints, cleaners, stains, varnishes, car batteries, motor oil, and pesticides) containing hazardous components
mold Fungus that reproduces by means of spores
ordnance Military weapons and ammunition
Mello-Roos District Area with a special assessment imposed on real property owners within a Community Facilities District
common interest development Name for community apartment project, condominium project, planned development, or stock cooperative
R-value Resistance to heat loss
tenancy Renter’s right to take exclusive possession and use of the owner’s rental unit in consideration for rent
rental unit Owner’s house, duplex, condominium, or apartment made available to a renter
periodic rental agreement Month-to-month rental agreement
rental period Length of time (days, weeks, months) between the rent payments
lease Rental agreement with a predetermined length of time
security deposit Refundable deposit that the landlord requires the tenant to pay at the beginning of the tenancy
implied warranty of habitability Requirement of landlords to maintain their rental units in a condition that substantially complies with state and local building, health, and safety codes
sublease Arrangement in which a lessee rents his or her leasehold interest to another party
assignment Transfer of the entire leasehold estate to a new person
three- day notice Notice instructing tenant to either leave the rental unit or comply with theterms of the rental agreement
unlawful detainer action Lawsuit to remove a tenant and return the rental unit to its owner
writ of possession document issued by the court commanding the tenant to leave the premises within five days
Created by: julietmongia
 

 



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