Jacob Shapiro and Justin Strane Named to the 2018 Illinois Rising Stars List

We are pleased to announced that Jacob Shapiro and Justin Strane have been selected to the 2018 Illinois Rising Stars list. This marks the second consecutive year Jacob and Justin have been selected to the Rising Stars list. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.

Super Lawyers, part of Thomson Reuters, is a research-driven, peer influenced rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Attorneys are selected from more than 70 practice areas and all firm sizes, assuring a credible and relevant annual list.

The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes:

  • Peer nominations
  • Independent research by Super Lawyers
  • Evaluations from a highly credentialed panel of attorneys

The objective of Super Lawyers is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys to be used as a resource for both referring attorneys and consumers seeking legal counsel.

The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country, as well as the Illinois Super Lawyers Digital Magazine.

For more information about Super Lawyers, go to SuperLawyers.com.

Chicago Property Tax Rebate Program - Applications Due by November 30, 2016

This past year, Chicago homeowners saw their property tax bills increase by an average of 13%.  Because of this, the City of Chicago developed a program to provide homeowners with some relief. Chicago's Property Tax Rebate Program is currently accepting applications.

Standard rebate amounts range between $25 and $200. The City calculates rebate amounts based upon household income and increases in the Chicago portion of a homeowners’ property tax bill.

26 neighborhood locations and City Hall accept applications. Homeowners will receive rebate checks 6 to 8 weeks after application processing. The deadline to apply is November 30, 2016.

Eligibility requirements for the Chicago Property Tax Rebate Program are as follows:

·         Chicago Resident and Homeowner;

·         Received the Homeowner’s Exemption in the most recent property tax year;

·         Household adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less in 2015;

·         City of Chicago portion of property taxes increased on most recent tax bill;

·         Homeowner is current on payment of property taxes;

·         Homeowner does not owe real estate taxes on other property located in Chicago; and

·         Homeowner does not owe other City debt (e.g., parking tickets, overdue water bills). Homeowners owing other debt may still apply; however, the City will apply rebate amounts to the outstanding debt.

Senior supplement and enhanced grant programs are also available for qualifying homeowners.

For complete information, including locations accepting applications, please visit:

Chicago Property Tax Rebate Program

or call our offices for further questions or assistance.

2015 Cook County Property Tax Rates Released

The office of Cook County Clerk, David Orr, announced the 2015 Cook County property tax rates this afternoon. Chicago residential property owners should see a 12.8% increase in their tax bills. The northern and southern suburbs will increase by approximately 1.7% and 2.1% respectively.

Also of note:

  • The 2015 average tax rate for Chicago is 6.867%.
  • The average Chicago property tax bill will increase from $3,220.32 in 2014 to $3,663.19 in 2015.
  • Chicago Equalized Assessed Values rose 9.3% from tax year 2014 to 2015.
  • 2015 marks the first time that the total tax billed in the City of Chicago will exceed $1 billion.

Cook County 2015 second installment property tax bills are expected to mail around July 1, 2016 with payment due on August 1, 2016.

For legal questions regarding property taxes, including appeals, please contact Jacob Shapiro (jacob@ansarishapiro.com) or Justin Strane (justin@ansarishapiro.com).

Additional information:

2015 Cook County Tax Rate Announcement

2015 Cook County Tax Rate Report

Attorney Justin Strane Published in the Illinois State Bar Association's Real Property June 2016 Newsletter

Justin's article "Commercial tenancies: Clearly define every term in a lease agreement" examined the Illinois First Appellate District's recent decision in Battaglia v. 736 N. Clark Corp., 2015, IL App (1st) 142437, as a reminder to parties involved in commercial leasing transactions to clearly define terms. Click here to read the article in its entirety. 

Adam Ansari Speaking at the 2016 American Bar Association YLD Spring Conference in St. Louis

 

Adam M. Ansari, Managing Attorney at Ansari & Shapiro, LLC, is speaking on a panel at the 2016 American Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division, Spring Conference in St Louis, entitled: Hit the Ground Running: Tackling the First Year, Whether as an Associate or Hanging Your Own Shingle.

Host: American Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division, Solo, Small Firm, and General Practice Committee

When: Friday, May 6, 2016, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. CST

Where: The Four Seasons, 999 North 2nd Street, St. Louis, MO 63102

Panelists:

Opening: Ashley Hollan Couch, The Hollan Entertainment Law Group, LLC

Hitting the ground running as an associate: Perry MacLennan, Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A

Tips when starting your own law firm: Adam Ansari, Ansari & Shapiro, LLC

Closing: Jeremy Evans, California Sports Lawyer

Moderators/Organizers: Tae Phillips, Ogletree Deakins, P.C. & Lori Frio-Walker, Petrelli Law, P.C.

Registration: 2016 ABA YLD Conference Registration and Home Page: CLICK here.

Contact: Lori Frio-Walker: lfriowalker@petrellilaw.com.

Adam M. Ansari Named as a 2016 Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Star

Adam recently made the list of Rising Stars for the Annual Super Lawyers Magazine!

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Super Lawyer Rising Stars are up-and-coming attorneys who are 40 years of age or younger and have practiced law for 10 years or less. No more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in Illinois are selected by the Super Lawyers research team to receive the honor.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Check out Adam's Profile on the Super Lawyers Website.

New ALTA Survey Standards Effective February 23, 2016

Changes to the American Land Title Association/American Congress on Surveying and Mapping survey (commonly referred to as an ALTA/ACSM Survey in contracts) standard details requirements go into effect on February 23, 2016. This is an important change that individuals and businesses involved in commercial real estate transactions must be aware of.

ALTA Surveys are important to commercial real estate transactions because they will be required by title companies to insure title to land without exception to the extent such is possible. ALTA Surveys assist in discovering matters that might not be evidenced by the public records.

Parties to a commercial real estate contract should make sure that the contract language refers to the proper survey. Under the 2016 standards, the survey is now referred to as an “ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey.” NSPS (National Society of Professional Surveyors) is the legal successor organization to the ACSM. Thus, contract language should make certain to correctly reference the required survey. Likewise, the contract should specify that the 2016 minimum standard detail requirements are required to avoid any confusion or room for contradicting interpretations.

Drafting and negotiating your commercial real estate contract to accommodate this change will help avoid potential misunderstandings or errors due to vagueness in contract language. Doing so may prevent costly mistakes such as ordering an incorrect initial survey and then being forced to order a second, more expensive ALTA Survey. Such an error could also impact contract deadlines and raise the risk of a contractual default.

Purchasers of Properties that have gone through Judicial Sales Should be Cautious

Adam M. Ansari's article, "Purchasers of properties that have gone through judicial sale should be cautious", was originally included in the December 2015 Illinois State Bar Association's Section on Real Estate Law Section newsletter, and republished in the Commercial Banking, Collections, and Bankruptcy Section. Please click here to review the original publication. 

The Illinois Appellate Court in Concord Air, Inc. v. Malarz, 2015 IL App (2d) 140639 has increased the due diligence necessary for properties that have gone through a foreclosure sale.

Modified on the denial of rehearing, on October 15, 2015, the Illinois Appellate Court posted its ruling in Concord Air, Inc. v. Malarz, 2015 IL App (2d) 140639. The case arose after Harris Bank filed a foreclosure action (Harris foreclosure) against a home in Lake Forest, Illinois, and named the borrower and Concord Air, Inc. (Concord Air) as a defendant/junior lienholder. Concord, at ¶ 1. Concord Air defaulted, and Harris Bank was the successful bidder at the judicial sale and the trial court confirmed the sale. Id. Thereafter, Chicago Title, as trustee for a land trust (Chicago Title), relying on a title report, which indicated Concord Air’s interest had been extinguished by the Harris foreclosure, purchased the subject property.

A little less than a year later, upon learning of the foreclosure proceeding and the default entered against it, Concord Air moved to quash service for a lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court vacated the judgment of foreclosure as to Concord Air only and left intact the order approving sale. Concord Air then initiated its own foreclosure action (Concord foreclosure) against the subject property. Chicago Title responded with a Motion to Dismiss arguing bona fide purchaser status. The trial court agreed with Chicago Title and additionally cited the public policy of finality and stability of judicial sales as a basis for its decision. Concord, at ¶ 48.

On appeal, Concord Air argued that Chicago Title was on inquiry notice of the lack of jurisdiction, because the affidavits on the record at the time Chicago Title purchased the property, indicated service was attempted only once, at an address other than the registered agent's, and by a different process server than the one listed on the affidavit of due diligence. Concord, at ¶ 40. Concord Air identified potential noncompliance with Sec. 2-206 and Sec. 2-202 of the ILCS in support of its argument. Concord, at ¶ 40. The Appellate Court agreed with Concord Air concluding that Chicago Title was on inquiry notice of Concord Air’s potential outstanding interest, as the defect in personal jurisdiction over Concord Air was apparent on the face of the Harris foreclosure record.

In addition to its bona fide purchaser argument, Chicago Title argued that because Concord Air was a junior lienholder and not a prior borrower or owner of the subject property, Concord Air should not be allowed to pursue a claim against the property itself, and Concord Air’s requested relief should be limited to the proceeds of the foreclosure sale. Concord, at ¶ 49. In response, the Appellate Court opinioned that the judicial sale did not result in a surplus and therefore the value of the property, roughly $1.7 million, and the status of the Harris foreclosure required a balancing of the equities on remand. Concord, at ¶ 50.

Transactional Attorneys Beware

Although difficult to glean from the Appellate Court’s opinion, the holding places a significant burden on real estate purchasers interested in properties that have gone through a judicial sale.

Regardless of the number of years or the number of times a piece of property has exchanged hands, purchasers and their attorneys are considered to be on constructive notice of potential jurisdictional defects in a foreclosure record, irrespective of whether the defect concerns a prior owner or a junior lienholder. Now, beyond a review of the title commitment, transactional attorneys are expected to obtain and review the foreclosure record before blessing the purchase of an affected property. This is especially onerous in light of the time, money, and effort needed to acquire a foreclosure record, not to mention the expertise needed to actually identify the potential jurisdictional defect once the record is obtained.

Although the newly enacted Sec. 15-1603.5 may provide a statutory framework for extinguishing a subordinate interest when that interest was not named in the original foreclosure action, it remains to be seen whether the code section, enacted August 26, 2014, will be applied to situations where a junior lienholder was named in the foreclosure, but jurisdiction was nonetheless found to be improper.

With the minimal fees, the time constraints placed on attorney review, and the prospect of more junior lienholders filing similar actions as Concord, some attorneys may begin thinking twice about their willingness to be retained on residential transactions with a prior foreclosure.

Chicago Debt Amnesty Program Goes Into Effect on November 15, 2015.

Fresh off his historical property tax increase, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is instituting an amnesty program for people with unpaid tickets, back taxes and other fees owed to the City of Chicago. The plan is part of a concerted effort on the Mayor’s part to prove that he is not intending to increase the cost of living in Chicago for all residents.[i] The program will begin on Sunday, November 15, 2015 and run through December 31, 2015.

Debts eligible for the amnesty program include “unpaid parking and red light camera violations, fines imposed by the Department of Administrative Hearings (e.g., building code violations, drinking on the public way), and taxes (both non-filers and tax assessments) incurred prior to January 1, 2012.[ii] “Penalties, interest and collection costs associated with the eligible debt will be waived during the [amnesty program], reducing the amount of due to the original fine or tax amount.”[iii]

Violations and tax obligations that are currently in a payment plan or have pending legal activity with the City do not apply. Further, “tow fees, storage fees, administrative fees, court costs, and other charges are not subject to the [amnesty program].”

Specific information for relief under the amnesty program may be found at the following links:

Amnesty Program General Information: http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fin/provdrs/accounts_receivabledivision/news/2015/october/DebtReliefProgram.html

Parking & Red Light Tickets: http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/fin/supp_info/Revenue/Amnesty_FAQ_Parking_Red_Light.pdf

Administrative Hearings Fines: http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/fin/supp_info/Revenue/Amnesty_FAQ_AH_Fines.pdf

Tax Debt: http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/fin/supp_info/Revenue/Amnesty_FAQ_TAX.pdf

Ansari & Shapiro is a full service law firm specializing in the areas of real estate, business and special needs planning.

[i]  Kate Shepherd, Unpaid Tickets And Taxes? Emanuel Launches An Amnesty Program, http://chicagoist.com/2015/09/04/emanuel_to_offer_amnesty_program_fo.php

[ii] City of Chicago Debt Relief Program Frequently Asked Questions, http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fin/provdrs/accounts_receivabledivision/news/2015/october/DebtReliefProgram.html

[iii] Id.

New Procedure to Extinguish an Omitted Subordinate Interest

Effective as of August 26, 2014, Public Act 98-1099 provides a new statutory framework for extinguishing a subordinate interest on a foreclosed property when that interest was not named in the original foreclosure action (see 735 ILCS 5/15-1603.5). The new procedure applies only in circumstances where: (1) the property is the subject of a foreclosure action; (2) a motion to confirm the judicial sale is pending or has been granted; (3) the interest attached prior to filing or recording the notice of foreclosure; and (4) the person with the interest was not named in the foreclosure complaint.

If the above requirements are met, then the holder of the certificate of sale or purchaser of the foreclosed property may file a strict foreclosure action naming the omitted subordinate interest as defendant. The court will then enter a judgment to extinguish the omitted subordinate interest, subject to the objection of the defendant. If the defendant objects to the judgment, their only available recourse is redemption of the property within the statutory redemption period of 30 days. The redemption shall be the sum bid at the prior foreclosure sale plus costs and fees incurred subsequent to the sale for the payment of taxes, preservation of the property, or any other actions taken by the holder of the certificate of sale to protect its interest in the property. This enactment denies a person whose omitted subordinate interest was not terminated by a prior foreclosure action the right to file a strict foreclosure action, though they are still entitled to make a claim for the surplus in the proceeds from the sale of the property.

Generally, plaintiffs include subordinate lienholders as parties in a foreclosure action in order to extinguish the subordinate interest. Accordingly, an unnamed subordinate interest's claim would not be extinguished by the confirmation of the judicial sale. Therefore, this procedure provides plaintiffs with an opportunity to extinguish the interest of a subordinate lienholder who was not named in the original foreclosure complaint while at the same time giving the omitted lienholder an opportunity to redeem the property. 

Attorney Ansari Wins Appeal Reversing a Nearly $1 Million Decision

Attorney Adam Ansari Wins Illinois Appellate Decision Helping Reiterate the Importance of Procedural Due Process

In a case that will help benefit real estate related litigation defendants, Ansari & Shapiro is pleased to announce that Attorney Adam Ansari successfully argued a case in the Illinois Appellate Court that further solidified the importance of proper service of process on a party defendant to a lawsuit.

Service of process is a fundamental right afforded to both individuals and companies, and necessitates that all defendants be provided proper notice of a suit in order for a court to properly have jurisdiction over the parties. Under certain circumstances, however, Section 2-206 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure allows for notice to be effectuated through a newspaper publication where the action is pending. In order for a court to allow service to be performed by publication, a plaintiff, or his or her attorney, must file an affidavit with the court showing that on due inquiry the defendant cannot be found. Publication service is the least suggested method for effectuating service of process in Illinois and is reviewed under a standard of strict scrutiny.

In the case, Mr. Ansari’s Client was a junior mortgage lender and had a nearly $1 million second mortgage on a piece of property. The borrower defaulted on his obligations, and the primary mortgage lender filed foreclosure proceedings against the property and named Mr. Ansari’s Client in order to wipe out its substantial interest on the property. In order to effectuate service upon Mr. Ansari’s Client, the primary mortgage lender utilized publication service and the property was eventually sold to a subsequent Purchaser after a foreclosure auction. Thereafter, Mr. Ansari’s Client learned of the proceeding and immediately moved to vacate the judgment and vacate the sale of the property in order to assert its nearly $1 million interest. Remarkably, the trial court judge vacated the judgment, but refused to vacate the sale. This decision resulted in the peculiar circumstance where the Purchaser remained the owner of the property and Mr. Ansari’s Client had its nearly $1 million mortgage revested.

At that time, Mr. Ansari’s Client filed its own foreclosure action against the property and the Purchaser asserted the defense of Bona Fide Purchaser (“BFP”) status. Under Illinois Law, a subsequent purchaser can assert a BFP argument if it took a piece of property: (1) for value, and (2) without notice of the outstanding interest of the asserting party. The trial court agreed with the Purchaser’s BFP argument and Mr. Ansari appealed the trial court’s decision.

On Appeal, Mr. Ansari argued that the Purchaser could not have successfully asserted a BFP argument, because the Purchaser had inquiry notice that service of process on his Client may have been improper. Generally, in order for a Purchaser to have inquiry notice, there must have been something in the original foreclosure record that would have pointed the Purchaser to the fact that service on a defendant was improper. To support his argument, Mr. Ansari pointed to two documents in the original foreclosure record: (1) a corporation file detail report that indicated the Client could have be served at the registered agent’s address; and (2) the affidavit of the special process server, which indicated that the process server only attempted service at one address prior to publication service and this address was not the registered agent’s address.

After looking at the two referenced documents, the Appellate Court agreed with Mr. Ansari and determined that the Purchaser did have inquiry notice that service may have been improper and reversed the trial court’s decision and remanded the matter for further proceedings.

The case makes clear that procedural due process is a fundamental right that must be afforded to all defendants in a lawsuit, and the failure of which can have drastic consequences for both the original litigating parties and a subsequent purchaser who fails to conduct adequate due diligence.

Ansari & Shapiro Lends Its Support to Special Needs Community

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On January 3, 2015, over 110 individuals participated in the 23rd Annual Special Needs Skating Competition at the Franklin Park Ice Area.

Congratulations to all of the participants!! This competition was a Special Olympics qualifier event so many of the skaters will now be able to participate in the Illinois Winter Games on February 18th. Supporting children and adults with special needs is a cause that is very important to the partners of Ansari & Shapiro, which supports similar events and organizations across the Midwest.

To view more photos of the events, visit Franklin Park's Facebook Page.

Ansari & Shapiro has a strong commitment to the community and strives to assist as many nonprofit organizations as possible within our geographical region.  Throughout the course of each year, Ansari & Shapiro donates thousands of pro-bono hours and dollars to worthwhile organizations through in-kind services and donations.  If you or your organization is in need of help, please email us at info@ansarishapiro.com and we will have a representative review your request and get back to you. Please include event information, charity information, and contact information.

Win for Borrowers in 2nd District Appellate Court

The Second District Appellate Court made a decisive ruling in favor of borrowers yesterday by setting aside 21 mortgage foreclosure judgments and sales.  The Court indicated that a Bank must strictly comply with the relevant Illinois statutes in order to properly acquire jurisdiction in a mortgage foreclosure case and provided borrowers with a concrete avenue to collaterally attack judgments entered without personal jurisdiction over the parties.

To read the full case click West Suburban Bank v. Advantage Financial Partners, LLC.