Construction Law

Unconscionable and Unenforceable Contracts in Utah

Joseph G. Ballstaedt801.365.1021joe@snjlegal.com Almost every contract in Utah is enforceable, but a contract or agreement that is unconscionable is unenforceable. The contract defense of unconscionability prevents oppression and unfair surprise. This article discusses the difficult task of overcoming the general presumption that contracts are enforceable, the elements needed to prove unconscionability, and other issues relevant …

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Rights Under Express Easements in Utah

Joseph G. Ballstaedt801.365.1021joe@snjlegal.com An easement is the right to use another person’s land. In Utah, easements can be created in a variety of ways, including by expressly giving an easement, by implication, by necessity, and by adverse possession (a prescriptive easement). This article discusses express easements (the most common type of easement), including how they are created, …

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What Can a Utah Property Owner Do When a Co-Owner Fails to Pay Property Expenses?

Joseph G. Ballstaedt801.365.1021joe@snjlegal.com In Utah, a person can hold title to real estate with other people in a variety of ways, including as joint tenants with rights of survivorship or tenants in common. Spouses regularly share ownership of a property, but friends, business partners, roommates, or anyone can also own property jointly. Joint owners have rights and duties to …

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Does Amending a Recorded Notice of Lien Reset the Deadline to Foreclose on a Construction Lien in Utah?

Joseph G. Ballstaedt801.365.1021joe@snjlegal.com To preserve a lien claim, a lien claimant must, among other things, record a notice of construction lien with the county recorder’s office, and within 180 days thereafter, initiate a lawsuit to foreclose on that lien. But what happens if, within that 180-day period, the lien claimant files an amended notice of …

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Timelines (and the Statute of Limitations) for Foreclosing on a Trust Deed in Utah

Joseph G. Ballstaedt801.365.1021joe@snjlegal.com In Utah, trust deeds are often used to secure loans, ranging from loans for homebuyers to loans for general contractors used to finance real estate developments. The real property identified in the trust deed acts as collateral. If the debtor fails to pay, the lender can sell the property in a foreclosure …

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How to Deal with Ambiguous Contracts in Utah

Joseph G. Ballstaedt801.365.1021joe@snjlegal.com What happens when two parties to a contract disagree about what the contract language means? How are ambiguities in a contract resolved? Utah courts and judges should interpret and enforce each contract in a way that is in line with the intent of the parties who signed the contract. Usually, the parties’ …

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Utah Construction Liens: An Overview of the Five Basic Steps

Joseph G. Ballstaedt801.365.1021joe@snjlegal.com In Utah, a construction lien is a valuable tool for any contractor, subcontractor, or supplier who does not receive payment for work it performs on a construction project. If the party who contracted for the work refuses or is unable to pay, the construction lien provides a second route to payment. It …

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Lien Worthy Restoration Work

In Utah, to lien, you must do more than clean. Restoration contractors often do more than clean up when disaster strikes a home or business. When a restoration contractor physically improves the structure, there may be a basis for a lien against the property. In the Utah Court of Appeals’ decision in All Clean, Inc. v. Timberline …

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The Final Steps of a Lien Claim: Winning the Lawsuit, Selling the Property, and Dividing up Proceeds

Joseph G. Ballstaedt801.365.1021joe@snjlegal.com In prior articles, I explained four general steps to preserving and enforcing a construction lien (also known as a mechanic’s lien) in Utah. These steps include: 1) filing a preliminary notice; 2) recording a notice of construction lien; 3) filing a lawsuit and recording a lis pendens; and 4) prevailing in that lien foreclosure lawsuit. The …

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Force Majeure Clauses and COVID-19

Many contracts include what is commonly known as a “Force Majeure” clause. “Force Majeure” translates literally as “superior strength.” Force majeure clauses may also be known as “Act of God” clauses. A force majeure clause is intended to reduce or alter contractual obligations should a major event occur which renders the contract impossible to perform. …

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