Blockchains, best known as the technology behind digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, are beginning to be implemented in a variety of commercial applications. The technology is attracting not only financial institutions and stock exchanges, but fields as disparate as the music, diamond, healthcare, insurance, and shipping industries. The possible benefits of an organized, structured, secure, and efficient data management system that blockchain technology may be able to provide has also led governments and private companies to begin to explore using blockchains as a replacement for the current land title record systems used around the world.

Continue Reading Blockchains and Land Title Records

California usury law is addressed in multiple places: the California Constitution, statutes, case law, and initiative measures. Due to the patchwork nature of this body of law, differing interpretations and ambiguity are commonplace. In one recent case currently on appeal, the Ninth Circuit has asked the California Supreme Court to clarify California law in order to resolve a split in the federal district courts around the obligation of lenders that are otherwise exempt from California usury limitations to disclose compound interest terms as part of a lending transaction. The determinations of the California Supreme Court are likely to impact existing and future commercial loans governed by California law.

Continue Reading California Usury Law: A Search for Clarity around Compound Interest

Previously on this blog, my colleagues posed the question to commercial landlords, “Do you know who’s working in your building?” In this post, I look at a different aspect of the sharing economy—residential short-term rentals (STRs, for short)—and ask, “Do you know who’s living in your apartment?”

Continue Reading The Rise of Short-Term Apartment Rentals: Concerns and Opportunities for Multifamily Owners

Mintz Levin was a sponsor of IMN‘s 13th Annual Winter Forum on Real Estate Opportunity & Private Fund Investing held at the Montage resort in Laguna Beach.  The IMN conference is the premier West Coast conference on real estate investing and is attended by the most influential voices in the real estate industry. Continue Reading Costs and Practicalities of Utilizing Alternative Sources of Capital for New Acquisitions, Refinancings & Development

A sophisticated (and effective) wire-fraud scam targeting real estate (and other) transactions is on the rise, and mostly occurring in the United States.

Here’s a Wire Fraud Alert from Chicago Title explaining how the scam works.

The National Association of Realtors suggests following this guidance to avoid becoming a victim: Continue Reading Sophisticated Email Scams Targeting the Real Estate Industry

Our colleague, Steve Friedberg will be speaking tomorrow during a seminar at this year’s US Shopping Center Law Conference put on by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). The seminar, “Financeable Retail Leases: A Guide for the Perplexed” will explore the requirements for creating financeable retail leases from the perspectives of landlords, tenants and leasehold and fee mortgage lenders. It will provide practical advice for representing landlords and tenants in these hybrid leases, as well as underlying case law, clauses and regulatory requirements. It will also provide examples of what can be negotiated and when these leases are most commonly utilized.  Additional speakers include Gregory Gosfield of Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg LLP and Elliot Hurwitz of Chicago Title Insurance.

Since February 2015, California state legislators have proposed several bills to modify the limitations on property tax increases established by Proposition 13 (Prop. 13). These bills include Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 (SCA-5) by State Senators Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), Assembly Bill 1040 (AB 1040) by State Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), and Senate Bill 259 (SB 259) by State Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel).

Commercial and industrial properties will be most affected by an annual reassessment but less affected by proposed redefinitions of “change in ownership”

Currently, property taxes are reassessed only when the property changes ownership, defined as a single purchaser buying more than 50 percent of a property. Of the three bills, two would redefine “change in ownership” and the third would calculate business and industrial property tax differently than residential and agricultural property tax. Continue Reading Proposed Prop 13 Reforms in California

Brandon Barker of our Los Angeles office has been keeping up to date on the latest developments surrounding AB1103 and California’s new disclosure requirements relating to energy performance.  The latest postponement allows nonresidential buildings with a total gross floor area measuring at least 5,000 square feet and up to 10,000 square feet to postpone benchmarking until July 1, 2016.  For more details, read our full client alert: AB 1103 Update: Postponement of Certain Nonresidential Building Energy Use Disclosure Requirements.

The California legislature has passed new laws giving residential and commercial tenants rights to install electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, and which direct cities and counties to streamline permitting for residential solar projects.  Gabe Schnitzler and Brandon Barker, who are active in our Green Building and Energy Technology Practice Group summarize the new laws in a client alert which you can access by clicking here.

Effective January 1, 2015, purchasers of property in California will no longer be able to hide the amount of transfer tax paid in connection with the acquisition of a new property.  AB 1888 has eliminated the ability to file a separate document showing the amount of the transfer tax and the tax now must be shown on the face of the recorded document.  A more in depth discussion can be found at Commonwealth Land Title’s website.