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Bond for Title and Eviction

Posted by 15789465 on

ImageA recent Alabama Court of Civil Appeals decision discussed what happens when a buyer under a Bond for Title defaults, and the seller wants to get them out of the property. It was the case of Alexander v. Hawk, decided on August 9th, 2013.  Hawk sued the Alexanders and won. The Alexanders appealed. Because they appealed, their name is first. Hawk sold to the Alexanders on a bond for title with monthly payments and a balloon in five years. The contract said that if the Alexanders defaulted, the relationship would change to landlord/tenant and all payments would be forfeited. The Alexanders defaulted. Hawk filed an unlawful detainer suit in District Court. The District Judge said it was the wrong court, and transferred the case to Circuit Court.  Hawk amended his complaint to add a count for ejectment and breach of contract, but failed to pay the additional filing fee. The court ordered the Alexanders out of the property, and gave Hawk slightly over $8,000 in damages. The Alexanders appealed. The Court of Civil Appeals vacated the judgment in favor of Hawk, and dismissed the appeal. They said:
  1. The original lawsuit was in fact properly filed in District Court. The judge was wrong to transfer it to Circuit Court. The Circuit Court did not have jurisdiction to hear an unlawful detainer claim unless it was an appeal, so that portion of the judgment in favor of Hawk was void.
  2. When Hawk amended his complaint to add breach of contract and ejectment claims, he failed to pay the additional filing fee required. As a result, those claims were not properly before the Circuit Court, and it could not enter judgment on them.
Bottom line, the Court of Civil Appeals sent the parties right back to where they started, and they had to start all over again. To read the decision, click HERE.

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9 comments

  • good question to be answered by an appellate court ruling – if a bft doesn’t create a bona fide landlord-tenant relationship, is ejectment the proper remedy (as opposed to unlawful detainer) and to muddy it even further, by the d.l.e. duck maxim, does the seller have to foreclose the bft contract first because it is really a mortgage?

    under the ptfff act can a foreclosure purchaser maintain unlawful detainer against another party’s tenant or do they have to eject?

    howie on
  • I agree with Justice Murdock. These agreements are very wishy-washy and the remedy should not be cast in stone, lest we risk denying a plaintiff possession of property of which he would have the right to in any other circumstance. BFTs are verfy contentious in many respects, and even attorneys should be wary of their use, and especially subsequent transfers. This is all a throwback to the days of the old strict pleading rules at common law.

    Amanda B Cook on
  • noticed in the cases you cited the courts ruled that unlawful detainer/eviction wasn’t an available remedy in alabama unless a landlord-tenant relationship existed (not just tenancy at sufferance) – therefore a purchaser at foreclosure sale must eject in circuit court – would like to know how this may conflict with the federal tenant protection from foreclosure act

    howie on
  • Yes, sad. Thank you for following up.

    Lauri on
  • Lauri, you couldn’t tell from the decision whether he had a lawyer or not. I didn’t think to check, until you commented. I called the clerk in the county where the lawsuit originated, and asked them. They said a lawyer filed the suit, and was involved throughout. Sad.

    Denise L. Evans on

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