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My Austin-based practice focuses on real estate litigation, including HOA law, fraud, construction disputes, and mortgages. I don't represent HOA's or banks, and I don't sue consumers.

My HOA work includes short-term rental litigation, a current flashpoint. My mortgage work is chiefly Texas-only class actions against Nationstar Mortgage, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase. These cases relate to Texas home equity loans that were modified to feature interest-only payments and balloons.

I brief and argue appeals in civil cases in the Texas Supreme Court, Texas intermediate appellate courts, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. I also write friend-of-the-court briefs for interested persons, organizations, and entities.

CASE UPDATES

TEXAS MORTGAGE LOAN MODIFICATION INFO

If you have a Texas mortgage loan that was "modified" to include interest-only payments or a balloon payment, click on this link. Pending class actions I have filed on behalf of Texas residents are against Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase (Chase Home Finance), and Nationstar Mortgage. The cases relate to "modifications" of Texas mortgage loans, including HAMP modifications.

PENDING SHORT-TERM RENTAL LITIGATION

TARR V. TIMBERWOOD PARK OWNERS ASSOCIATION SHORT TERM RENTAL BAN LITIGATION (BEXAR COUNTY):

The HOA, which assumed the role of enforcer of the deed restrictions and fined Mr. Tarr for renting out his home for short terms, asserted that the deed restrictions ban short-term rentals. Mr. Tarr sued to block the enforcement action and the fines and asked the court to declare the meaning of the restrictive covenants.
Now, the HOA is demanding that all its member homeowners be sued as defendants individually, thereby forcing everyone in the subdivision into the litigation as parties. Mr. Tarr's motion requesting a win on the merits of the case, as well as the HOA's new request that all its homeowners be sued, are located
HERE.

DOWNEY V. BRIDLEWOOD RANCHES OWNERS ASSOCIATION SHORT TERM RENTAL BAN LITIGATION (HAYS COUNTY):

The HOA, enforcer of the deed restrictions, threatened suit against Mr. Downey for renting out his home for short terms, asserting that the deed restrictions ban short-term rentals. Downey sued to block the enforcement action and asked the court to declare the meaning of the restrictive covenants.
Now, the HOA is demanding that all its member homeowners be sued as defendants individually, thereby forcing everyone in the subdivision into the litigation as parties. Mr. Downey's motion requesting a win on the merits of the case, as well as the HOA's new request that all its homeowners be sued, are located
HERE. The hearing on Downey’s motion is now set for January 29, 2015, at 9:00AM, at the Hays County courthouse.


APPEAL IN ZGABAY V. RIVER CHASE PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION SHORT TERM RENTAL BAN LITIGATION (TEXAS THIRD COURT OF APPEALS - AUSTIN):

This is an important appeal that promises to have implications state-wide. It involves bare-bones deed restrictions that expressly allow leasing and have only a “residential use” requirement. Zgabay has a second home in Comal County, near New Braunfels. He sometimes rents it out for short terms. The River Chase HOA said that STR’s are not a “residential use.” On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court in Comal County said that “residential use” requires some undefined minimum period of occupancy, without providing guidance what minimum number of days that means. Zgabay appealed on the basis that the deed restrictions plainly do not require any period of owner-occupancy, or ban leasing, or otherwise require anyone, owner or tenant, to reside at the premises for any minimum duration. Indeed, the declarations do regulate duration for some uses, but pointedly do not regulate the duration of leasing. The opening brief of Zgabay is available here. The HOA’s brief is due February 4, 2015.

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