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Lack of documentation may make litigation difficult

Purchasing commercial real estate in Houston has the potential to be a complex process due to the legal formalities that must be observed. This can be made more complicated when a third party is involved, so ensuring that everyone is in agreement and that all aspects of the transaction are in writing is essential.

The attempted purchase of 8.5 acres belonging to a Catholic school foundation has led to litigation in Harris County. The plaintiff claims that he discussed his plans and reached an agreement with the school’s president, and that these included a $95,000 donation to the school in exchange for a quick approval from the school board. However, although the sale would have been within the responsibilities of the president, the rights to the school’s real estate are held by a nonprofit foundation that denies the existence of an agreement.

Records show that the school’s foundation took steps to allow commercial use of the property, but members of the board claim that there never was a contract or letter of intent approved by the president or the board. The school’s priest did receive drafts of the letters of intent, but they claim these did not represent a binding contract because the legal description of the acres in question was not included.

Breach of contract may be difficult to prove when there is no documentation to support the plaintiff’s claims, or when there are missing papers or signatures. An attorney who is familiar with the laws and regulations specific to the Houston area may be able to provide legal assistance when there is a dispute over a contract for commercial real estate.

Source: Houston Chronicle, “Trial set for Catholic nonprofit, developer over land dispute,” Nora Olabi, May 31, 2016

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