Legal Analysts

Showing posts with label Real Estate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Real Estate. Show all posts

Friday, February 16, 2024

New Rule for Real Estate Closings Coming Nationwide

On February 16, 2024, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) proposed a new rule to mandate certain individuals involved in real estate closings and settlements to report and maintain records on non-financed transfers of residential real property to specific legal entities and trusts nationwide. This proposed rule is called the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations for Residential Real Estate Transfers

Reporting persons ("RP") include, but are not limited, to real estate agents, title insurance companies, settlement agents, and attorneys. There is a “cascading” approach, based on the function performed by the person in the real estate closing and settlement that determines which RP has the burden to report. Regardless, real estate professionals would also have the option to designate a reporting person from among those in the cascade by agreement.

RPs are required to report:

  1. The names and addresses of reporting persons, transferee entities, transferee trusts, signing individuals, transferors, and any beneficial owners.
  2. The citizenship details for all beneficial owners of transferee entities or transferee trusts.
  3. The unique identifiers, such as IRS Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs), for individuals and entities involved in the transactions.
  4. A description of the capacity in which the signing individual is authorized to act, such as legal representative or employee.
  5. The details about the total consideration paid for the property, method of payment, accounts used, and the names of payors if different from the transferee entity or trust.
  6. The address of the property and a legal description, such as section, lot, and block.

RPs must e-file the report with FinCEN within 30 calendar days after the transferee entity or transferee trust receives the ownership interest in the residential real property. RPs must maintain a copy of the report, any certifications regarding beneficial ownership, and any designation agreements for five years from the date of the report filing.

Note that transfers of real property to individuals, as opposed to an entity (LLC, Corp, LLP) are not covered by this proposed rule. 

If this rule is adopted the effective date will be one year from the date the final rule is issued. This time period is to allow real estate professionals to have sufficient time to review and prepare for the implementation of the reporting requirements. 

Written comments about this proposed rule are being accepted and must be submitted on or before April 16, 2024 by utilizing this link.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Real Estate Transfer Taxes Going Up 0.5% on the East End?

On October 8, 2021, Governor Hochul signed S6492 into law and now the five eastern towns (East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Southampton and Southold) are authorized to establish community housing funds to be funded by a supplemental real estate transfer tax.

Before any additional taxes are going to be levied, each town's board will need to enact a local law to that effect. 

Do you think that taxes should be raised on real estate sales to create affordable housing?

Before you answer that question, do you agree that the East End is unaffordable for much of its labor force?

The public purpose of this bill is "to establish a dedicated fund to provide needed housing opportunities" for "moderate income and working class local residents."

So, do you think your town should enact a local law, raise transfer taxes, and increase its supply of affordable housing? 

Thursday, September 09, 2021

NY Legal Podcast Does In-depth Analysis On Why Landlords Statewide Can Evict Tenants Even With The Eviction Ban

"The Lieb Cast" (a New York based legal podcast hosted by Attorney Andrew Lieb and Lauren Lieb) has featured an entire episode devoted to New York's eviction moratorium (which gives landlords options to pursue evictions or get paid through governmental rent relief). "The Lieb Cast" discusses why landlords can still sue for a money judgment in supreme court. In addition, the podcast explores residential and commercial distinctions for evictions, plus the foreclosure moratoriums in New York.

"NYS landlords can and should file evictions. The new moratorium does not totally prevent evictions and if you file, you will either be able to proceed with the eviction or your tenant will be directed by the court to get government money to pay your rent". Said Andrew Lieb, Co-Host of The Lieb Cast.


Podcast Link:

About The Lieb Cast

Business success takes hard work, but physical hustle can only get you so far. You also need to work out your mind to succeed today. Join Andrew Lieb's weekly podcast to explore how current events impact your business and real estate holdings. This podcast is for business owners and managers who want to stay up to date with the latest legislation and regulations that will impact their business. Learn how to navigate these laws to avoid getting sued, grow and market your business, manage employees, and strategize to dominate our ever-changing business world.

Andrew Lieb is a litigator, corporate trainer, author, real estate school owner, and entrepreneur. He is joined on the air by Lauren Lieb, his wife and business partner, to present this educational and personal podcast. They coach their listeners to business greatness and entertain you with a ton of fun, sarcasm, wit, and banter. Search "Lieb Cast" on any podcast player.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

New Law Extends Commercial Eviction Moratorium to May 1, 2021 for Small Businesses

On March 10, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed the COVID-19 Emergency Protect our Small Businesses Act of 2021 (“Act”). In summary, the Act provides some commercial tenants with an opportunity to submit a Hardship Declaration, which upon submission to the Court or landlord, stays most evictions and ejectment actions until May 1, 2021. The second part of the Act which provides for commercial mortgage foreclosure relief is discussed in a separate blog HERE.

  • The Act applies to summary proceedings or any other judicial or administrative proceeding to recover possession of a commercial unit, including evictions and ejectment actions.
  • The Act only applies to a commercial tenant who:
    • is a resident of New York State;
    • is independently owned and operated;
    • is not dominant in its field; and
    • employs fifty or fewer persons.

Hardship Declaration
  • The Act requires the Court or the landlord (depending on the status of the eviction proceeding) to provide the tenant with the Hardship Declaration in English and in the language of the lease / tenancy agreement.
  • The tenant should complete the Hardship Declaration if the tenant is suffering a financial hardship and is unable to pay rent or other financial obligations or obtain alternative suitable commercial property because of:
    • significant loss of revenue;
    • significant increase in necessary expenses related to providing protective equipment to prevent transmission of COVID-19; or
    • moving expenses and difficulty securing alternative commercial property.

New Commercial Proceedings
  • If there is no pending proceeding and a tenant provides a Hardship Declaration to the landlord, the landlord is prohibited from commencing any proceeding until May 1, 2021.
  • If the tenant does not provide a Hardship Declaration, the landlord is required to file and serve the following to commence an action:
    • affidavit of service of the Hardship Declaration in English and the language of the commercial lease / tenancy agreement;
    • affidavit of service of predicate notices required by law and the lease;
    • affidavit of the landlord / landlord’s agent attesting to the following:
      • Landlord / his agent did not receive a Hardship Declaration from the Tenant; or
      • The tenant returned the Hardship Declaration but the tenant is “persistently and unreasonably engaging in behavior that substantially infringes on the use and enjoyment of other tenants or occupants or causes a substantial safety hazard to others, with a specific description of the behavior alleged.”
  • If the Court determines that the landlord failed to provide the Hardship Declaration to the tenant, the Court shall stay the proceedings for at least 10 business days to allow the tenant to complete the Hardship Declaration.

Pending Commercial Proceedings
  • Refers to proceedings commenced on or before March 7, 2020 and commenced within 30 days of March 10, 2021.
  • Stayed for at least 60 days, or to such later date the Court deems necessary to provide tenants time to complete and submit the hardship declaration.
  • Court shall issue stay and mail copy of the Hardship Declaration to the tenant.
  • If the tenant provides a completed Hardship Declaration to the Court or landlord, the matter is stayed until May 1, 2021.

Post-Warrant of Eviction
  • In any proceeding in which an eviction warrant has already been issued, execution is stayed until the court holds a status conference with the parties.
  • If the tenant provides a Hardship Declaration, the execution of the warrant is stayed until May 1, 2021.
  • For the sheriff to execute the warrant of eviction, it must now state:
    • The tenant has not submitted a Hardship Declaration and the tenant was properly served with a copy of the Hardship Declaration, listing dates of service by the petitioner and the court; or
    • The tenant is ineligible for a stay under this act because the court determined that the tenant is persistently and unreasonably engaging in behavior that infringes on the use and enjoyment of other tenants/occupants or causes a safety hazard to others with a specific description of the behavior.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

New Tenant Disclosure Form on Reasonable Modification and Accommodation Required

Effective today, all owners, lessees, sub-lessees, or managing agent of housing accommodations are required to provide a reasonable modification and accommodation disclosure form to tenants pursuant to recent amendments to the New York State Human Rights Law.

Specifically, the new law requires the reasonable modification and accommodation disclosure form prescribed by the New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR) be provided within 30 days of the beginning of a tenant’s lease or within 30 days of March 2, 2021 for all current tenants. The disclosure form must also be conspicuously posted on every vacant housing accommodation that is available for rent.

Seems simple enough, right? Apparently not. As of today, the disclosure form has not been published by NYSDHR and so, compliance by real estate professionals is currently impossible. Until NYSDHR prescribes a form, to reduce exposure, all leases should include language notifying tenants and prospective tenants of their right to request reasonable modifications and accommodations if they have a disability under the New York State Human Rights Law.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

New York is Really Tired of Banks and Title Companies Not Accepting Powers of Attorney

Governor Cuomo has signed into a law Assembly Bill A5630A which aims to simplify the statutory short form power of attorney and increase its acceptance by third parties (looking at you title insurers and banks). 

Previously, a power of attorney could be void because it did not contain the "the exact wording of the form set forth in Section 5-1513". This strict language caused many third parties relying on the form to refuse to honor powers of attorney not prepared using their own templates out of fear that the form they were unfamiliar with had a small technical error rendering it invalid. 

Now, a power of attorney is valid so long as it "substantially conforms to the form required pursuant to Section 5-1513" even if it contains insignificant mistakes in "wording, spelling, punctuation, or formatting, or the use of bold or italic type... or uses language that is essentially the same as, but not identical to, the statutory form." Even more, "failing to include clauses that are not relevant to a given power of attorney shall not in itself cause such power of attorney to be found to not substantially conform with the requirements of such form." Long story short, the statute now gives much more leeway in the preparation of the form, hopefully avoiding the voiding of powers which in all fairness should have been valid for the purpose intended. 

To promote acceptance of more powers of attorney, the new bill bakes in protections for third parties relying upon powers, as well as penalties for third parties that unreasonably reject powers. 

Section 5-1504 of the General Obligations Law is amended to contain a presumption that a duly acknowledged (notarized) power of attorney is genuine and valid. It also is amended to provide for a mechanism to release a third party relying upon a power of attorney from liability after reasonable acceptance. The third party may "request, and rely upon, without further investigation" (1) an agent's certification under penalty of perjury any factual matters relating to the power and (2) an opinion of counsel (from the principal is fine) as to any matter of law concerning the power. There are strict time limits (10 business days) in which the third party must reject a power of attorney together with a written explanation given to the principal and agent, and then either reject or honor the power after receipt of written explanation received from the agent/principal (7 business days). Most importantly, if the agent receives an acknowledged affidavit from the agent stating that the power is in full force and effect, the third party must accept the power of attorney except for reasonable cause, which is enumerated in the statute. If the third party and agent/principal follow all the steps in this dance, the "third party shall be held harmless from liability for the transaction." 

But what if your bank or title insurer still won't accept your power of attorney? A special proceeding may be commenced against the third party refusing to honor the power, awarding damages (including reasonable attorney's fees and costs) if the third party acted unreasonably in refusing to honor the power of attorney. 

Time will tell if these changes, coupled with the elimination of the statutory gift rider, will result in more widespread use and acceptance of powers of attorney. Banks and title insurers are notorious for avoiding risk when it comes to the use of powers of attorney and the State's attempts to promote their acceptance has bordered on Sisyphean. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Suffolk County Fair Housing Task Force Expected to Begin Efforts to Combat Discrimination

On July 14, 2020, the Suffolk County Fair Housing Task Force convened for the first time after its creation and after delays due to the coronavirus pandemic. Its meeting agenda included a discussion of the group’s mission, goals, and expectations. The Task Force is expected to hold public hearings to gather information from residents, experts, and advocates and thus, provide the legislature and County Executive with their report of findings. The Task Force is also expected to start its efforts to combat housing discrimination in Suffolk County. Thus, real estate brokers are reminded of their duty to supervise agents and to be prepared by ensuring that agents receive proper training and that they comply with Fair Housing and discrimination laws.

As background, the Task Force was formed by resolution after the results of a multi-year investigation by Newsday and testers found extensive evidence of impermissible steering of consumers based on race. As such, the Task Force was charged with the responsibility to conduct a comprehensive review of Suffolk County’s Human Rights Law and provide recommendations to improve and strengthen these regulations to more effectively and efficiently stop individuals from discriminating against potential buyers of homes in Suffolk County.

Real estate brokers should be aware that private discrimination claims can include claims for actual damages, punitive damages, statutory penalties, attorneys’ fees and costs, as well as, the suspension or revocation of real estate licenses. To prevent liability and ensure that your licensed associates are properly trained to comply with current Fair Housing and discrimination laws, contact Lieb Compliance HERE for on-demand custom digital trainings for your licensed associates.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

NYC Reporting Requirements for Airbnb Rentals Amended

On July 7, 2020, Mayor DeBlasio signed into Law Int. No. 1976 which modified the requirement for booking services, like Airbnb, to report short-term housing rental transactions. Essentially, beginning on January 3, 2021, the new law exempts booking services from reporting listings for rooms only, and for up to two (2) guests. They are also exempted from reporting if their property is rented for less than four (4) days in one quarterly reporting period.

Specifically, Section 26-2101 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York is amended to add a new definition for “qualifying listing”:

Qualifying Listing. The term “qualifying listing” means a listing or advertisement that offers a short-term rental via a booking service, and:
1. such listing or advertisement offers or appears to offer the short-term rental of an entire dwelling unit or housing accommodation, or
2. such listing or advertisement offers or appears to offer a short-term rental for three or more individuals at the same time.

Further, Section 26-2102 is amended to exempt booking services from the quarterly reporting of information for transactions associate with a qualifying listing when all such transactions within a reporting period result in the rental of a dwelling unit or housing accommodation for an aggregate of four (4) days or less. The reports must include the address of the rental listing, name address, and contact information from the host, total rent received, among others, and must be submitted to the Office of Special Enforcement.

Failure to comply with the reporting requirements under the Administrative Code of the City of New York may result in penalties not more than the greater of $1,500 or the total fees collected during the preceding year by the booking service for transactions related to the qualifying listing.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Empire State Development Issues Guidance on Real Estate Services

On March 9, 2020, Executive Order 202.6 mandated non-essential businesses to reduce their in-person workforce by 50% and later, by 100%. Today, the Empire State Development (ESD) issued guidance on Executive Order 202.6 to further determine which businesses are considered essential.

What does the ESD Guidance mean for real estate professionals?

Lawyers are permitted to continue to perform all work necessary, as long as it is performed remotely. Any in-person work must be only for supporting essential businesses or services, with the caveat that such work should still be conducted as remotely as possible.

Real estate services, including but not limited to, title searches, appraisals, permitting, inspections, recording, legal, financial and other services necessary to complete the transfer of real property shall be conducted remotely for ALL transactions.
  • In-person services may be conducted only to the extent legally necessary and in accordance with appropriate social distancing and cleaning/disinfecting protocols.
  • Brokerage and branch offices may be opened only to clients.

With ESD’s Guidance, along with Executive Order 202.10 and 202.14 which authorized remote notarization and electronic witnessing for deeds (which we blogged about HERE and HERE), real estate professionals can get back to work and close some deals.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

LIEB Permitted to Close Real Estate Deals by NYS

On April 2, 2020 we received word from NYS Empire State Development that "[r]eal estate law practices are deemed essential if it is necessary to be in-person to do the work."

LIEB can close your deals in-person. 

Make no mistake, we are a leader in remote closings, but sometimes lenders and title underwriters won't permit such a closing and we have been struggling to find a solution. So, rather than guessing, we made request of the Empire State Development to tell us. This is something every business must do before acting because the penalties are outrageous for non-compliance

We just got our answer and we are already scheduling closings. 

Some people might say that this is a terrible move for a public health advocate. However, my favorite professor during my Master's program taught me to never ignore any of the dimensions of health while only focusing on physical health. Yes, the physical dimension is important. Yet, one can never ignore the spiritual, emotional, social and mental dimensions as well. To that end, there are people who need to close their real estate deal to be healthy. They may be living in limbo with no place to go, there can be financial stress of continued home ownership, there could be too many people occupying one space, or a plethora of other reasons that a closing is necessary.

Remember not to judge someone else's circumstances. 

We will be sure to keep social distance and avoid any gatherings to never forget the physical health needs of our team, our clients and ever other individual who is involved in our closing process.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Law Alert: LLC Owners ID Must be Disclosed in Real Estate Deals


LLC sellers & buyers of residential property (1-4 family houses) will no longer be able to hide their identities.

Transfer tax returns submitted by LLCs, as required when transferring real estate, will no longer be accepted by the clerk's office unless submitted with the names and addresses of all members, managers, shareholders, directors, officers, partners, and other authorized agents.

Check out the full bill here and understand that you can no longer hide your identity in a residential real estate deal in the State of New York.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Housing Discrimination and Facebook

On Monday, Governor Cuomo called on the Department of Financial Services to investigate reports that state-regulated advertisers are using Facebook, Inc.'s advertising platform to discriminate against protected classes.

Real estate brokers and mortgage bankers are state regulated advertisers - you are warned.

Get into compliance today before it is too late - call Lieb Compliance at 646.216.8038 for an audit, policies and trainings.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Source of Income Discrimination now banned in all of New York State

Source of income discrimination is now prohibited in all of New York State as a result of Governor Cuomo’s signing of the New York State FY 2020 Budget. The Budget amends the New York State Human Rights Law or Section 292 of the Executive Law to add and define “lawful source of income” as a protected class.

The term “lawful source of income” shall include, but not be limited to, “child support, alimony, foster care subsidies, income derived from social security, or any form of federal, state, or local public assistance or housing assistance including, but not limited to, section 8 vouchers, or any other form of housing assistance payment or credit whether or not such income or credit is paid or attributed directly to a landlord, and any other forms of lawful income.” Exec. Law §292(36).

Prior to Governor Cuomo’s signing of the Budget, source of income discrimination was already prohibited in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties, among others. It is important to note that as a result of the new law, the cooperative and condominium exemptions in Westchester County are no longer applicable.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Cash Offers on Real Estate Transactions: Option for Acquisition Mortgage Post-Closing

Buyers can pay cash at closing and reap the benefits of obtaining a loan on the property by purchasing a 90-day post-closing loan.

This can be helpful for buyers who want to make competitive cash offers, close quickly and subsequently obtain mortgage interest deduction benefits of the loan according to the IRS, Publication 936.

Read the full article by Andrew Lieb, Esq. published in The Suffolk Lawyer here. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Hardwired or Sealed Smoke Detectors Required as of April 1, 2019

New York State homeowners and real estate professionals should be aware that starting April 1, 2019, smoke detectors must either be hardwired or be sealed and have a 10-year irreplaceable battery life.

New York General Business Law Section 399-ccc prohibits the sale, distribution or importation of any “solely battery operated smoke detecting alarm device powered by a replaceable, removable battery not capable of powering such device for a minimum of ten years.” In addition to the requirement that the solely battery operated smoke detector have a minimum battery life of ten (10) years, its product packaging must also state the manufacturer’s name or registered trademark and model number of the device.

The above requirements do not apply to battery operated smoke detectors already “ordered by, or are in the inventory of, owners, managing agents, contractors, wholesalers or retailers” on or before April 1, 2019. However, if these non-compliant smoke detectors are replaced after April 1, 2019, such replacement must comply with Section 399-ccc’s requirements.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Anatomy of a Real Estate Lawsuit with Andrew M. Lieb

A lawsuit is not what you see on TV. On TV, a lawsuit is won by an attorney marching into court with a grand display of showmanship and a cunning tongue. The TV judge hearing the case makes a spot decision and it’s all over and decided before the final commercial break. In reality, a civil litigation takes years and is much more of a chess match than a swordfight. As opposed to this courtroom drama, a real case is typically decided on paper submissions that may be heard months after they are first provided to the court. Additionally, the decision is often made on a technical procedural rule, not on the merits or substance of the litigation.

You see, being right isn’t everything in real litigation. Instead, a real lawsuit is all about knowing how to play the game. The following is a summary of the stages of a litigation, but this chess match isn’t linear and each of the stages can appear out of order and can even reoccur again and again. So, civil litigants need a skilled advocate who is a master of the game if they want a shot at victory. Here is your game board:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Consumer Step-by-Step Guide for the Mortgage Purchase Process

The Federal Government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently released a Home Loan Toolkit, a step-by-step guide through the mortgage purchase process, for consumer use. This is a must use tool for real estate professionals to create realistic expectations for their clients and customers. 

This toolkit helps consumers to:

  1. Calculate affordable monthly mortgage payments;
  2. Understand the importance of credit scores to obtaining better mortgages;
  3. Pick their mortgage type;
  4. Choose the best down payment amount;
  5. Shop with different lenders;
  6. Understand and know about issues that may arise;
  7. Choose a mortgage closing agent; and
  8. Understand the overall closing process.

This Home Loan Toolkit has fillable text fields, buttons, and list boxes, allowing consumers to update the toolkit as they work through the process. It is designed to be much easier and more accessible version of the existing Settlement Cost Booklet that is currently provided to consumers and should be used in connection with the new (and simpler) Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure forms that will be effective on August 1, 2015.

Though creditors are required to provide the toolkit to all potential homebuyers, the CFPB encourages that real estate agents understand and provide this toolkit to their clients as well. The more informed the parties, the smoother the real estate transaction will go.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Real Estate Agents Forbidden to Use Air Drones for Listings

If you are a licensed real estate agent and have ever used or are still using air drones to take photographs of properties to improve your listings, stop now and do not do so again. The Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration has recently provided clarification on the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, prohibiting the commercial use of model aircraft.  

Under this Act, a model aircraft is defined as an unmanned aircraft that is flown recreationally within visual sight of the aircraft operator. There are numerous statutory requirements that aircraft operators must adhere to when flying model aircraft, such as the weight of the aircraft and where and when the aircraft can be flown. However, the most important statutory requirement for real estate agents is that the aircraft must be used only for recreational purposes.

Millions of Americans have joined aircraft clubs in order to build and fly model aircraft and have used model aircraft to take aerial photographs and video of their communities, gardens, and farms. This is allowed. If you are using a model aircraft to take photographs for pleasure and do not intend to use or sell the photographs for your business, then you do not violate any statutes. Real estate agents, however, use model aircraft for commercial purposes, violating the statutory requirement of recreational use. For example, many real estate agents use model aircraft to take aerial shots of properties for their listings, especially if the properties are large and have a high sales price. With high commissions at stake, real estate agents are willing to put forth the extra effort to take these aerial photographs and improve their listings to catch a worthy buyer’s eye. It is important to note that if a real estate agent is caught using model aircraft to take photographs of properties for listings, the Federal Aviation Administration, under this Act, may fine this real estate agent (or exact punishment in any other way it deems necessary) for the violation of this statutory requirement.

Since the Federal Aviation Administration has the power of enforcement, it is wise to avoid using model aircraft for commercial purposes at all costs.

Stay tuned for an update on what kind of fines the FAA can exact on violators.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Copyright Infringement Risks When Building Custom Homes

Sometimes it's tempting to purchase a plot of land and build a custom home. However, understanding the risks associated can help you avoid costly mistakes. One risk particularly is called copyright infringement.  Brokers, keep this in mind as you work with clients who are buying to retrofit or develop real estate. 

Copyright infringement on architectural designs has recently been addressed by the Second Circuit United States Court of Appeals on June 5, 2014 in the case James E. Zalewski, Draftics, LTD. v. Cicero Builder Dev., Inc., et al.

Mr. Zalewski is an architect who licensed several builders to use his architectural designs. He claims that these builders infringed on his copyright by customizing his designs and building homes based on his designs without his consent.

Mr. Zalewski points to the vast similarities between his designs and the Defendants’ designs, arguing that these similarities prove that the Defendants knowingly took from his work and infringed on his copyright.
However, the Court explains that copying in itself is not grounds for copyright infringement. Mr. Zalewski must not only prove that his work is copyrighted and that it has been copied, but that it was wrongfully copied as well. The Court held in this case that the Defendants’ designs, although similar, did not wrongfully copy from Mr. Zalewski’s original designs. The designs were for a colonial home and colonial homes can only be arranged in so many ways.

Ruling in favor of the Defendant, Circuit Judge Wesley claimed, “Plaintiff can get no credit for putting a closet in every bedroom, a fireplace in the middle of an exterior wall, and kitchen counters against the kitchen walls. Furthermore, the overall footprint of the house and the size of the rooms are ‘design parameters’ dictated by consumer preferences and the lot the house will occupy, not the architect.”

Based upon this ruling, a builder can use general designs without having to hire an architect.

Nonetheless, builders should always consult with an attorney prior to using a design to ensure that no copyright infringement is occurring.