“Apartment Managers Can’t Turn a Blind Eye to Crime,” says Apartment Crime Lawyer Memphis,TN Knows and Trusts.

As an apartment crime lawyer Memphis, TN  knows and trusts, I can tell you that in Tennessee, the law requires property owners to take reasonable measures to protect their tenants and guests from foreseeable criminal attacks.  Many apartment managers and owners fail to do this, and in some cases, innocent people living in or visiting apartment complexes or communities are injured as a result.

What is a foreseeable crime?

Tennessee case law states that the degree of foreseeability needed to establish a duty by an apartment owner to protect against criminal acts will almost always require that prior instances of crime have occurred on or in the immediate vicinity of the property. Courts will consider the location, nature, and extent of previous criminal activities and their similarity, proximity, or other relationship to the crime that resulted in personal injuries to an innocent victim.

Assessing Crime at an Apartment Complex

So, what is a property owner or apartment manager in Memphis TN supposed to do? The owner or manager can start by assessing the level of crime within the apartment complex and surrounding neighborhood. How is management supposed to know about crime? Many apartment managers commute to work from some other neighborhood and don’t even live in the apartment complex they manage, so they are disconnected from the community.  Even if a manager does live on site, the manager might claim he or she never observed any crime occurring, and thus had no reason to know security measures were necessary. Good enough? Not by a long shot. There are many tools available today for property owners and managers to use to assess crime as the first step in developing a reasonable security plan for an apartment community.

Reviewing and Monitoring Crime Levels apartment crime lawyer memphis, tn

As an apartment crime lawyer Memphis, TN counts on, I regularly obtain the following information while representing victims of apartment violence and shootings, so we  know that the same information is available to apartment owners and managers.

  • CAP Index® Reports– According to the company’s website, CRIMECAST Reports are designed to identify the risk of personal and property crimes at a particular location.
  • Crime Analysis Reports. In the City of Memphis, a property manager or owner can submit a Crime Analysis Search Request to the Memphis TN Police Department and receive a Crime Analysis Report.  Information can be requested for a specific address, apartment complex, police district, or radius around an address.  The Report generated identifies the number and types of crimes for the time period requested, the specific location of each crime, and the corresponding incident report numbers for each crime.
  • Review Police Incident Reports. In Memphis, TN, an apartment manager can request copies of police reports in order to understand the types of crimes being committed on or near a property.
  • Calls for Service. In Memphis, TN,  a property owner or manager can request the calls for service made to a particular address or apartment complex.
  • Statistics from Local Police Precinct.  A property owner or manager can also visit the local precinct, discuss crime in the neighborhood, and request and obtain information concerning crime statistics for the area.

Are you the Victim of an Apartment Crime or Apartment Shooting? If so, call the apartment crime lawyer Memphis, TN knows and respects! 

If you are the victim of a serious injury due to apartment crime, please call Wiseman Bray PLLC today at 901-372-5003. We’ve helped others like you, and we can help YOU recover if apartment management failed to take reasonable measures to protect against foreseeable criminal attacks.  Wiseman Bray PLLC is an apartment crime lawyer Memphis, TN  knows and trusts. We will meet or speak with you and discuss whether you might have a case at no charge.  Let us get to work for you.

Here are the experienced Memphis apartment crime lawyers at our law firm who will work on your case:

 

Joint Property Ownership Pitfalls and Solutions

joint property ownershipOur law firm has worked on a couple of cases lately involving joint property ownership; that is, property owned by a group of several individuals. Owning a piece of land or real estate with a group of individuals or family members can lead to many problems, a few of which we will discuss here.

What Happens to Real Estate When a Person Dies?

In Tennessee, real property typically passes outside of Probate in accordance with the publicly recorded property documents in the County where the property is located.  A person can also plan for the disposition of real property in a Will or Trust.  If you die owning real property in your sole name, though, it can cause significant problems for your Beneficiaries that can be avoided by proper planning.

In both cases I mentioned above, the group of individuals came into joint property ownership because of intestate succession (i.e., dying without a Will).  You may think that you do not need a Will because your property will pass to your heirs regardless.  However, there are many problems and burdens that your heirs will face if property passes to them through intestate succession.  Here’s what can happen if a landowner dies without a Will:

  • Land may pass to heirs who do not wish to be landowners.
  • Land may pass to heirs who do not know that they are now landowners (i.e. lost heirs).
  • Land may pass to heirs who are not prepared for the responsibility of owning real estate (i.e. paying real estate taxes, maintaining insurance, upkeep of the property)
  • If there is a mortgage, payments may be required very soon after the death of the original owner and before any inherited owner has a chance to determine how to address the new ownership – i.e. sell the property, allow it to be foreclosed upon, etc.
  • The title to the property will be unclear and extra effort will be required to determine all legal owners in a joint property ownership situation. It can be very difficult to locate heirs and to determine with certainty who all owns a piece of property, especially if some of the original heirs have died, or if the family isn’t in close contact or is spread across the country. A title search may be required, and title searches can be expensive.

Increased Costs for Inherited Owners

When a piece of property passes through intestate succession, when ownership is unclear, or when a piece of property is owned by a large group of individuals, there will be extra expense involved when the property is sold. As a general matter, the entire sales process will take longer than usual. Each separate legal owner must be found and consulted with.  Then, each owner must agree to all parts of the sale process (i.e. negotiating the price, negotiating and completing repairs, and signing all required paperwork).  It can be very difficult getting a group of family members or individuals to all cooperate and agree during the course of a real estate transaction.

Inherited owners who want to sell property can expect to have to do some additional work with the buyer’s title company such as filing probate documents, getting releases from TennCare, and dealing with potential creditors of the deceased person.  A title company may require proceeds to be escrowed for up to a year after the deceased person’s death.

Legal Issues of One Owner Can Affect Other Owners

Inherited and multiple owners can also come with their own personal problems.  A judgment lien or a bankruptcy filing of one inherited owner will immediately attach to the inherited property, which could cause delays and problems for any co-owners wishing to sell the property.

Ways to Avoid Common Problems of Joint Property Ownership

If you must own property with a group of individuals or family members, or if you desire to pass property to a group of people, there are ways you can accomplish joint property ownership which lessen the burden and expense involved. Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney or Property Lawyer about the best way to achieve your personal goals. For example, more effective “joint ownership” can be achieved in the following ways:

  1. Own as Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship. This type of ownership is common with married couples, but it can also be used with any individuals wishing to create this type of joint tenancy.  Upon the death of one joint tenant, the remaining tenant owns the property outright.  This results in protection from a debtor-tenant’s creditors because liens can only attach to the right of the debtor-tenant, which is nothing more than a “potential survivorship right.”  This protection ends if the non-debtor tenant dies and the debtor- tenant then owns the property outright.  One negative of this type of ownership is that the property will only pass to the other joint tenant, so the Estate of the first to die loses any equity to pass on to other individuals.  In addition, potential gift tax issues may arise since the Grantor is “gifting” rights to the property to the person they are creating a joint tenancy with.
  2. Own the Property in a Limited Liability Corporation.  Ask a business organization attorney about property ownership through an LLC. The rights of the members will depend on the structure of the LLC. Creating an LLC requires maintenance of paperwork to the State to keep the LLC active which will be required if the LLC wants to sell the property.
  3. Put the Property Into a Living Trust.  This is achieved by conveying the property to a Trustee on behalf of a Trust. (A Trust itself can’t own property; rather it must be an individual Trustee on behalf of the Trust.)  The property will then be maintained and distributed in accordance with the Trust Agreement.  A Living Trust allows the Grantor to make changes during his or her lifetime (therefore keeping control and autonomy) but also allows for the streamlining of management and an easy transition of the property upon the death of the original Grantor.  The successor Trustee can sell or manage the property outside of Probate, and depending on the Trust terms, without the input of or disruption to the Beneficiaries.

Beneficiary Deeds

Tennessee does not offer this, but some states allow the use of a Beneficiary Deed to clarify how a property is to pass upon the owner’s death. Essentially, a Beneficiary Deed lets a person name a beneficiary and only takes effect upon the death of the owner. Ask your Estate Planning Attorney about the availability of Beneficiary Deeds if you own property in multiple states.

Right to Partition

If you are tied up in joint property ownership, or if you own a piece of property with a group of individuals or family members and you want to end the relationship and go your separate way, you can. In Tennessee, you have the legal right to what is called “partition.” Speak with a civil litigation attorney about filing a partition lawsuit. In this kind of lawsuit, you ask the judge to partition the property, either “in kind” or “by sale.”

Need Help with a Property Ownership Issue?

Have questions about joint property ownership or other real estate issues? Please call us at 901-372-5003 or send Wiseman Bray PLLC an email.