Ask George and Chuck: Property owner should research before doing online B&B
Q: I want to lease a house through an online bed and breakfast. It seems I can lease it out for one or two nights and make enough to pay my mortgage. What are the downside risks to this?
A: Online B&Bs are a fad. You can make pretty good money leasing your house for a weekend or a few nights utilizing a national network of advertising. There are issues, though. For example: Are they subject to the city hotel tax? Does it violate the deed restrictions in your subdivision? What will you do if a tenant tears up the premises? How will you screen your tenants? You should do a little homework before you jump into this venture.
Q: I just signed a contract to buy a house from a builder. My friend just submitted another contract to the same builder for an identical house, but $5,000 cheaper. How can I get out of this deal?
A: Contracts mean something. You’re expected to live up to your agreement. Who knows why your friend got a better deal, but it has no bearing on yours.
Q: I bought a new house. My neighbor just told me that the prior owner’s husband committed suicide in the back bedroom. Shouldn’t someone have disclosed this?
A: No. Texas has a statute that specifically deals with this. There is no duty to disclose a suicide in the sale of a house.
Q: I am a real estate agent, and I just got sued by a buyer who thinks I withheld information about the condition of the property. It is false, and I don’t want to settle. I want my day in court. My insurance company wants me to pay a deductible and they will settle the case. I refuse to do it. Am I entitled to defend myself?
A: You certainly are, but you have a duty to cooperate with your insurance carrier. They may deny your coverage if you don’t. They are experts at this kind of defense. Listen to them. Trials are expensive and risky.
Q: I have friend who has found a property for me to purchase. He helped me negotiate the transaction, gave me comparable sales data, and helped me prepare a TREC contract form. The seller refuses to pay him a commission after he did all the work. Doesn’t he have any rights in this situation?
A: Is your friend licensed? If not, there are civil and criminal penalties for paying a commission to an unlicensed person.
If he is, why didn’t he address this issue earlier? He must know that he must have a written commission agreement to get paid.
Q: We signed a contract, a cash deal. We have just discovered that the purchaser is 17. He looks older. Do we have a deal?
A: Legally, a 17-year-old is not competent unless they have had their disabilities removed. The contract is voidable at the option of the minor. Will he be 18 when he closes? The title company will probably not close it when they see his driver’s license unless he can prove his disability has been removed.
To send a question visit www.AskGeorge.net and select the “Ask A Question” button. As to questions do not contain legal advice. If you wish to obtain legal advice, you should consult your own attorney. George Stephens is the broker of Stephens Properties. Charles J. Jacobus, J.D. is board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.