Developer Made Bad on a Deal; is This a Case of Unjust Enrichment?

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“A residential developer, who wanted to develop a tract of property adjacent to ours, has approached my sister and me about placing a detention pond and easement, which the city required his development to have, across our property in exchange for the purchase of our property within a specified future date and price per acre. We agreed to allow the easement and detention pond subject to the execution of 2 agreements drawn up by the developer: (1) Option to Purchase Real Estate with a scheduled execution date of Sept. 2005, and (2) Agreement of Intent to Develop Real Estate which specified a scheduled execution date of Feb. 2006, and which he signed.  Hence, a Drainage and Detention easement was drafted, signed by us, and recorded with the county. However, the developer began and completed work on the easement and detention pond before either of the 2 documents was ever signed. The developer never paid any consideration, he never executed either of the 2 documents, and he never followed through by purchasing the property as he had agreed to do. His residential development was about one half completed when the economy turned sour and he sold his remaining interest to another developer. His company does however, continue to thrive to this day and he and his family continue to hold substantial real estate investments. My question is this: Would it be possible to sue and force the developer to purchase the property even though the easement and detention pond are already on our property and before the 6-year statute of limitations expires next month? Is this a case for Unjust Enrichment?”

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I’m sorry I can’t give a better answer than “it depends.”  You might have an argument that the developer effectively agreed to the deal to purchase your property by virtue of taking advantage of his end of the deal (that is, building the pond).  You might only have an argument to recover the dollar value of the damage to your property from the pond.

The biggest factor that this will depend on (other than the applicable statute of limitations, which you mentioned) is the exact terms of the recorded easement and any other documents you have from the time. Particularly since you’re on short time, I strongly suggest you have a local attorney review these documents for you as soon as possible.

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Author: House Attorney

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