Three Important Areas of Commercial Real Estate Law


There are many different subsections of the law. For this reason, different lawyers tend to have different specialties. Some of the subsections are so narrow that you wonder how many people actually require their services. But, you might be surprised. Consider the area of commercial real estate law. How many people own commercial real estate? How many of those people have legal troubles that require the specialized services of a commercial real estate lawyer? Commercial real estate law deals with the following legal problems.

Commercial zoning problems

Zoning laws state what a property can be used for. In most cases, a commercial property can only be used for commercial use and not for industrial or residential. Additionally, a property zoned as residential cannot be used for commercial or industrial. While you generally do not have a crossover of zoning for industrial purposes, sometimes people will attempt to run a business out of their house or live in their commercial space. A commercial real estate lawyer would deal with any legal complaints involved in this situation.

Another zoning problem occurs when a real estate investor wants to purchase a vacant piece of land and change the zoning on it. This usually requires city meetings, inspections, and mortgage appraisals. The commercial real estate lawyer is an important part of this process, ensuring that the appropriate paperwork is filed and that everything moves along according to the plan.

Commercial business liabilities

Another problem that occurs is when a commercial business does not follow local safety requirements. This could occur in the form of dumping chemicals in the water systems or ignoring air quality city regulations. Sometimes, construction laws can be broken by ignoring build times or zones. These types of cases often require an experienced commercial real estate lawyer. The legal charges are very high and settlement amounts can get extremely high. In 2015 alone, the American Arbitration Association administered 551 construction industry cases with claims of $500,000 or more. The largest mediated construction case was for $2.6 billion, while the largest arbitration case was $96 million. The total value of all claims and counterclaims in 2015 was $5.5 million.

Employment legal problems

There are also employment legal problems that can occur. An example of this is when a construction crew hires employees to complete work and then fails to pay them. It is a more complex process than taking them to the small claims court because in many cases, the city is the payer. There might be disagreements surrounding completion of work or contract abilities, but it is often taken to a commercial or employment law judge.

According to the American Arbitration Association, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is the preferred conflict management process in the construction industry. The median time frame from filing to award for 2015 construction arbitration cases was just 232 days or less than eight months. This is a fairly short period in the legal system industry. This just shows that hiring a lawyer can significantly speed up the process. A commercial attorney can also decide whether or not to take a commercial case to trial. According to a 2005 review of civil cases filed in state courts, plaintiffs win bench trials 68% of the time and only 54% of the time in jury trials.

There are many things that a commercial real estate lawyer handles. They may not be legal concerns that a person without commercial business would have, but there are many commercial and construction businesses out there. Commercial real estate attorneys handle these employment, zoning, and city laws.