Monthly Archive for June, 2011

UNLICENCED CONTRACTORS IN CALIFORNIA

California requires that all contractors, including specialty contractors such as fencing, roofing, tiling, painting, solar, landscaping, and insulation contractors, be licensed by the Contractor State License Board (“CSLB”).  Specifically, “It is illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work on any project valued at $500 or more in labor and materials. Continue reading ‘UNLICENCED CONTRACTORS IN CALIFORNIA’

EQUITABLE EASEMENTS IN CALIFORNIA

An easement is a non-possessory interest for the use of real property that belongs to another for some specific purpose.  The most common easement is for ingress and egress (road access to the property), but easements can also be obtained for utility lines, windmills, logging, hunting rights, and even scenic views.  Easements can be public (granted for public access to beaches or other public areas) or private (granted to a person for individual privileges.)  It is not a fee interest in the land, but it is a right to an ownership interest and has an inherent value (particularly if it runs with the land, i.e. is transferable to future owners.)  Indeed, easement rights are sometimes purchased for valuable consideration.

 There are several types of easements: Continue reading ‘EQUITABLE EASEMENTS IN CALIFORNIA’

Is a Buy-Sell Agreement Right For Your Company?

 You’ve worked so hard to get your company up and running.  The business is finally turning a profit, and you and the other owners of the business are getting on famously.  Any ownership issues have been ironed out and it’s going to be smooth sailing from now on, right?   

 Wrong.  The only thing for certain is change, and some changes in the ownership of a small business are inevitable and can be devastating to the company.  Continue reading ‘Is a Buy-Sell Agreement Right For Your Company?’

Why should my corporation hold annual meetings?

 Our corporate clients who are not publically traded, and maybe only have one or two shareholders, sometimes don’t understand the necessity of having annual shareholder and director meetings. But there are some very good reasons why it is a good idea to do so:

 First, it is required by law.  Continue reading ‘Why should my corporation hold annual meetings?’

Free Speech Considerations in Commercial Real Estate

 Owners and tenants entering into shopping mall or other commercial leases must cover many deal points in the lease documents.   One issue that may get overlooked concerns free speech rights.

The general rule is that shopping malls must allow free speech protests within the visual and aural range of the targeted business, when the mall is open to the public.  Current law requires a shopping mall to provide more access to public expression than stand-alone stores.  This is because malls are more of a public meeting place than stand-alone stores.  One recent court opinion signalled (without holding)  that this rule may change.  In the future, the distinction between malls  and, say, big box stores which provide a public seating area, may blur.  In the future, courts in California   may look at the scope and nature of the public space offered by a store, to determine the scope of public expression.

A mall owner can create lease restrictions on speech and expression, but any restrictions on time, place and manner must be content-neutral.  For example a court recently held that the rules for a Southern California mall unconstitutional; the rules were not content-neutral because they treated labor protests differently from other types of speech.  The mall’s argument that  the rules were constitutional, because they didn’t restrict the content of the labor protests, did not impress the court. 

Retail property owners and tenants would do well to pay attention to free speech and expression rights and restrictions in their leases and rules.  Reviewing the constitutionality of such lease terms and updating problematic language may prevent a constitutional legal battle in the future.   

Leslie Baxter is a Partner at Randick, O’Dea & Tooliatos, LLP; she is an author of “California Real Estate Brokers Law and Litigation,” published by Continuing Education of the Bar. 



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