Property II Final Exam – Part II: Batman

January 11th, 2019

Instructions: In Gotham City, Batman is a superhero who fights evil villains, and also engages in sophisticated property transactions. Please write a memorandum of no more than 1,000 words addressing five property issues affecting Alfred, Batman, Catwoman, Dracula, and Joker concerning  Caveacre, Wayneacre, Batacre, Fraudacre, and Arkacre. The Gotham District Court applies all American common law rules, a race-notice statute, the Texas Anti-Deficiency Statute, and is bound by the United States Constitution.

Question #1

Alfred owned Caveacre in fee simple. Batman owned Wayneacre in fee simple. The lots border each other. Alfred sold Caveacre to Batman, with a covenant that the property could only be used for residential purposes. Batman sold Wayneacre to Alfred with a covenant that the property could only be used for commercial purposes. Alfred sells Dracula a life estate on Wayneacre. Batman sells Caveacre to Catwoman in fee simple. Dracula builds a house on Wayneacre. Catwoman builds a factory on Caveacre.

Dracula sues Catwoman to enjoin the operation of the factory on Caveacre. Catwoman sues Dracula to demolish the house on Wayneacre.

  1. How should the court resolve this dispute?

Question #2

On Monday, Joker sells Fraudacre to Alfred. On Tuesday, Joker sells Fraudacre to Batman, who did not know about Alfred’s deed. On Wednesday, Alfred goes to Gotham City Hall to record his deed for Fraudacre. The clerk accepts Alfred’s deed, and records it in the Grantor Index, but forgets to record it in the Grantee Index. On Thursday, Joker offers to sell Fraudacre to Catwoman. That day, Catwoman performs a title search for Fraudacre. Later that day, Catwoman purchases Fraudacre from Joker, and promptly records her deed in both the Grantor and Grantee Index. On Friday, Batman records his deed.

Soon, Alfred, Batman, and Catwoman realize that they were scammed by the Joker. Alfred files suit in Gotham District Court to quiet title on Fraudacre.

  1. How should the court resolve this dispute?

Question #3

Batman sought to purchase Batacre at a price of $100,000. He paid $10,000 for a down-payment from his own savings. Gotham Bank gave Batman a note for $80,000, which was secured by a first mortgage. Arkham Bank gave Batman a note for $10,000, which was secured by a second mortgage. Over the next year, Batman pays $5,000 to Gotham Bank, and $5,000 to Arkham Bank. However, Batman falls on hard times and defaults on the mortgages. Gotham Bank moves to foreclose Batacre. At the sale, there is only one bidder: a representative from Arkham Bank, who places a bid for $50,000. After the conclusion of the sale, Gotham Bank and Arkham Bank both seek deficiency judgments against Batman. Batman moves to set aside the foreclosure.

  1. How should the court resolve this conflict?

Question #4

Joker announces that he wishes to open an “insane asylum” on Arkacre for people with mental disabilities. The Gotham City Council promptly enacts a land use regulation that allows the Zoning Board to deny a permit for insane asylums with more than five residents if the public safety requires it, unless the asylum builds a 100 foot electric fence around the perimeter. The City Council found that criminals often congregate outside of these group homes. Currently, there are no other insane asylums in Gotham City.

Joker challenges the constitutionality of the land use regulation in Gotham District Court.

  1. How should the court resolve this challenge? (Do not consider any statutory issues, only constitutional questions).

Question #5

Often, land use regulations closely implicate questions of race, socioeconomic status, and property values. State governments may make zoning decisions based on some, but not all of these factors.

  1. Discuss what role courts should play—both under the federal and state constitutions—in scrutinizing such land use regulations.