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Rhode Island Legal Blog

Monday, November 5, 2018

Senators Spotlight High Risk of Money Laundering in Residential Real Estate

According to the Wall Street Journal, two U.S. senators have called for an investigation into any existing weaknesses within the current U.S. money-laundering provisions.

Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland (both Democrats) believe that the risk of money laundering in residential real estate is high due to the real estate sector having significantly less oversight than the lending sector. That is why they sent a letter to Gene Dodaro, head of the Government Accountability Office, writing that this great discrepancy in attention paid presents “increased risk of access by foreign and domestic criminal organizations.”


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Friday, November 2, 2018

Need to Know Differences Between a Commercial and Residential Lease

It is important to know the differences between a residential and commercial lease because both are treated differently under the law. The distinctions will set out certain rights and obligations for both parties involved in the contract.

What is a Residential Lease Agreement?

A residential lease is most often between a landlord and an individual tenant or family. The agreement is to provide a living arrangement. It is usually set up to include a monthly payment, but not always. The term varies from month-to-month to a term of several years, although one-year leases are perhaps the most common.

These types of leases usually apply to houses, apartments, townhouses, or condos. The location is generally not used for profit. However, some areas do permit residences to run a business out of their home.

What is a Commercial Lease?

Commercial leases involve a contract between a landlord and a business. The business can be a sole proprietorship or a corporation. The purpose of the arrangement is to provide space so that the business can sell goods or provide service. The goal for the company is to use the area to generate a profit. It is not designed for sleeping or to meet the residential needs of a business owner or its employees.

Commercial spaces are usually locations such as:


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Friday, October 19, 2018

3 Must-Ask Questions if You Are Considering Buying a Business

If you are considering buying a business, you need to ask several questions first. Getting the right information will be integral to determining whether this is a smart business decision for you. It will also help you decide how to best carry on the business after you have purchased it. You should ask the following questions before you commit to buying a company.

1. Do the financials seem sound?

The books are going to be very important if you are considering buying any type of business. As a buyer, you should be asking for bank statements and profit and loss statements. You may also want to see any contracts with employees, suppliers, or lessors. Ongoing deals with advertisers should also be examined.

Looking at the financials for specific product areas or by quarter can also be helpful. Smaller businesses may not have as detailed of records as you would like, but taking a look at what they have can be helpful. If they don’t have any records at all or the records consist of receipts in a shoebox, that can indicate a problem. Tax records may be a helpful place to start if the seller doesn’t have anything else.


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Friday, October 12, 2018

The Basics of Withholding Taxes for Employees

Getting tax withholdings right can be extremely daunting. Failure to pay the IRS or state taxing authority the correct amount could end up costing you thousands of dollars in penalties and interest. For many employers, an outright failure to pay could result in personal liability for employment taxes.

Payroll tax withholding covers more than just federal taxes. It also addresses any state tax obligations, local tax requirements, and Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) Taxes. If you, as an employer, do not pay these correctly, you could have both the federal and state taxing authorities upset with you, and your employee may have to pay into the government at the end of the year. You can avoid all of these potential problems by simply ensuring that you are withholding for everything you are supposed to—in the right amount.


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Monday, October 8, 2018

Title Searches

If you have ever bought a home or even considered buying a home, you have probably heard of title searches and title insurance. You may not, however, be aware of why title searches are conducted and why title insurance even exists. Title refers to your ownership rights in the property. That is why problems with a title, which do come up on occasion, can affect your ownership rights. Title insurance works to financially protect you should the property you took title to have a defect that affects your ownership rights.

What Type of Property Defects Can Be Revealed in a Title Search?

A title search is conducted in the property purchase process to help ensure the buyer will receive clear title. A clear title means that there are no problems with the property history that would have a negative impact on your ownership interest. First and foremost, a title search will let the buyer know that the seller actually has the legal right to sell the property. Furthermore, it will inform the buyer if there are any outstanding judgments or liens in place against the property.

There are several defects that can be uncovered during a title search, including:

 


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Monday, October 1, 2018

Fiduciary Responsibilities and Your Business

As a business owner, you have certain responsibilities that must be fulfilled.While being a sole proprietor gives you more leeway, business owners who use any other business formation must be familiar with fiduciary responsibilities. These obligations extend to corporate officers and even managers in some situations. So, what are fiduciary responsibilities for business owners and corporate officers?

What are Fiduciary Duties?

A fiduciary duty is a legal requirement that applies to anyone who has a relationship of trust with another person or organization. While fiduciary responsibilities extend to more than just the business context, they are often associated with corporations and partnerships.


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Friday, September 21, 2018

Developing a Disciplinary Policy as an Employer

Very few employers like to discipline employees for misconduct or poor performance. However, it may be necessary to do so to prompt t workers  to fulfill their job duties appropriately or behave in a specific way. Establishing a disciplinary policy long before you need it will clarify your expectations of employees and also help you avoid legal liability for wrongful termination or similar claims. This article is a brief discussion of how to  develop a disciplinary policy that works for your business and your employees.


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Friday, September 14, 2018

Neighbor Disputes: Property Boundaries

Disputes with neighbors can range widely, from loud parties, to poor upkeep, to boundary encroachments. If you are like most property owners, you take great pride in your land, and you do not want anyone to use property that is rightfully yours. When neighbors start taking down shrubs, planting trees, or putting up fences on your property, that is exactly what they are doing—using your real estate. What can you do to deal with these issues?

Know Your Property Lines

Many people generally understand where their property reaches, but they may not know precisely where the property line is located. In many situations, merely pointing out where you think your property lines lie can halt encroachments in their tracks. In other circumstances, it may be a good idea to call in a professional.

You can get a formal land survey done that indicates exactly where your property ends and where your neighbor’s land begins. Having this information can be extremely valuable in dealing with any boundary issues. You may learn that you have misunderstood where your property line is located, or that your neighbor was mistaken about where your property begins.

Land surveys do cost money, but some neighbors will agree to split the costs. In other situations, it may be worth the expense to avoid litigation down the road.

Common Property-Related Problems

Many property-related disputes have similar causes. These may include:


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Friday, September 7, 2018

Real Estate Contracts 101: Breach by Seller

Residential real estate transactions typically involve the signing of a contract between a prospective buyer and owner. In most cases, both parties follow through with their contractual commitments. However, sellers of real estate sometimes attempt to cancel the contract—a situation that forces the buyer to either accept the default or initiate legal action.


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Monday, September 3, 2018

An Overview of the Residential Real Estate Sales Process

Residential real estate sales can be overwhelming and confusing. Thankfully, the  process is similar for every transaction. This means t you can prepare long before you find the right home, here’s how.

The Listing Agreement

If you are selling your home, you will start with creating a listing agreement. This agreement sets the asking s price,   the commission your real estate agent will be paid, and also specifies the length of time the property will be listed, that is, remain on the market.

In a listing agreement, , you may also be required to disclose certain physical information about the property, such as the age or condition of the roof and any significant problems you have experienced. You are also required by  federal law to disclose any known lead-based paint used in the home.

All of this information is vital to buyers who are considering purchasing the home. Whether you are a buyer or a seller, you will start the process with a listing agreement, if you are using a real estate agent. You may also list your home for sale yourself. There is no requirement to use a realtor and no need to have a listing agreement. Instead, you simply start advertising  the home for sale independently. .


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Friday, August 31, 2018

Can My Employer Enforce a Covenant Not to Compete?

Many employers require their employees to sign agreements which contain covenants not to compete with the company.  The enforceability of these restrictive provisions varies from state-to-state and depends on a variety of factors. A former employee who violates an enforceable non-compete agreement may be ordered to cease competitive activity and pay damages to the former employer.  In other covenants, the restrictions may be deemed too restrictive and an undue restraint of trade.

A covenant not to compete is a promise by an employee that he or she will not compete with his or her employer for a specified period of time and/or within a particular geographic location. It may be contained within an employment agreement, or may be a separate contract. Agreements which prevent employees from competing with the employer while employed are enforceable in every jurisdiction. However, agreements which affect an employee’s conduct after employment termination are subject to stricter requirements regarding “reasonableness,” and are generally disallowed in some states, such as California which has enacted statutes against such agreements except in very narrow circumstances.


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