Teri is a firefighter who lives and works in Boston, Ma. She is selling her home and found a buyer named Jack. Teri received an offer from Jack for $300,000. Teri accepts the offer and they sign a contract to that effect.
After the contract is signed, Teri learns of a Boston rule that all firefighters must live within the Boston city limits. Teri decides not to move and contacts Jack to let him know she won’t be moving after all.
Jack sues Teri in municipal court, asking for specific performance in accordance with the original deal. Teri argues that, although specific performance is usually appropriate in land sales contract cases, the judge has the discretion to deny specific performance.
Whether Jack is due specific performance?
In Raynor v. Russell, 353 Mass. 366 (Mass. 1967), a police officer had entered into a contract to sell his home. The police officer was planning to move to property in a town more than ten miles from the city, but because a certain statute was accepted by the city in effect requiring its police officers to live within ten miles of it, was not an adequate ground for denying specific performance of the contract sought by the purchaser in a suit in equity.
Also stated in Raynor, The court held that ”the prospective purchasers were entitled in lieu of the relief granted by the final decree to specific performance upon payment of the purchase price less the amounts already paid as a deposit, as well as interest thereon.” The court also concluded that “there was not any hardship shown sufficient reason for denying specific performance.” The court held that because specific performance was to be granted, the price set by the oral agreement made by the buyers must be paid.
In Joseph A. Cardillo Revocable Trust v. Cardillo, 17 LCR 55 (Mass. Land Ct. 2009), is that Joseph seeks specific performance of the agreement and an order that Charles be compelled to convey the subject property to Joseph for a consideration of $ 125,000. Specific performance is also permitted when the buyer reasonably relied on a contract and the continual assent of the selling party and the buyer’s position has been changed for the worse.
Also stated in Joseph, the court ordered “specific performance of a written agreement between two brothers dividing up a plumbing business that included the purchase by one of the brothers of the other’s 50% interest in the business real estate held by the two as tenants in common.”
A Judge will grant specific performance in a land or real estate deal as stated in Raynor,”the purchasers were entitled of the relief granted by the final decree to specific performance upon payment of the purchase price less the amounts already paid as a deposit, as well as interest thereon.”
Since Teri had signed a contract with Jack the Judge should grant Jack specific performance based on the original agreement. As stated in Joseph, Specific performance is permitted when the buyer reasonably relied on the contract with the seller and the buyer’s position has changed for the worse.
Therefore, specific performance is not a strict and absolute right and it rests in sound judicial discretion. Jack should receive specific performance because of the duty owed him in the original signed agreement.
However, will Teri’s circumstances cause the judge to use his discretion and deny specific performance?
In A. B. C. Auto Parts, Inc. v. Moran, 359 Mass. 327 (Mass. 1971), the plaintiff appeals from a final decree in the Superior Court denying specific performance of an alleged oral contract to sell property in Cambridge and ordering the return to the plaintiff with interest of the deposit it paid to the defendant concurrent with the alleged making of the contract. In order to entitle the buyer to specific performance on a contract of sale, it is necessary that the buyer tender the purchase price to the seller on behalf of the buying corporation within the reasonable time implied by law unless the seller evidences an unwillingness or inability to convey.
Also stated in A.B.C. Auto Parts, the court stated that “in order to entitle him to specific performance on this contract it was necessary that Kagan tender the purchase price to the defendant on behalf of the plaintiff corporation within the reasonable time implied by law unless the defendant evidenced an unwillingness or inability to convey.” There was evidence that Kagan was ready, willing and able to perform, and this was all that was required in the circumstances.
The Massachusetts Superior court may deny specific judgment as stated in A.B.C. Auto parts, an order Teri to return the deposit with interest to Jack concurrent with the making of this contract, if the judge uses his judicial discretion in doing so.
Therefore Jack is due his duty of specific performance because of the binding contract that he had with Teri. However, the judge may use his discretion and deny the specific performance to Jack and require the return of Jack’s deposit as stated in A.B.C. Auto parts. It is to the judge’s judicial discretion.
Courtney from Study Moose
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