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How Commercial Property Law Is Different Than Residential Property Law

Posted on: March 24th, 2020 by dintinolaw

Philadelphia property law
The rate of homeownership in Philadelphia has been steadily decreasing in recent years. However, property law is relevant for more than just buying a home.

Whether you are looking for a penthouse apartment or a new business office, you are going to need the help of a good property law practitioner. However, not all property lawyers are the same. Different lawyers specialize in different kinds of transactions.

Read on as we explore the differences between commercial property law and residential property law.

Commercial & Residential Property Law: The Basic Differences

The primary difference between residential and commercial property is that the former is for living in, while the latter is for doing business.

However, it is not quite as straightforward as that. Many differences are caused by this in terms of the legal requirements of transactions.


Naturally, one of the foremost considerations in terms of any transaction is its financial implications.

Generally speaking, costs will be lower for residential property transactions than for commercial ones. This fact tends to be true whether you are renting or buying.

Mortgage applications for business properties will present far greater costs than those for residential properties. This fact is especially true if your building will have owner-occupier status, i.e. if you can prove you will be living there yourself.

Your lawyer will be able to walk you through the best cost-reduction approaches in respect of every type of property transaction.

Legal Protection

There are significant differences in the law’s treatment of commercial and residential tenants.

Generally speaking, the law offers far greater protection to residential tenants than commercial ones. This protection is because where the basis for a lease relates to business, the courts presume that both parties to it have entered into it intending to make a profit and that the tenant is therefore reasonably competent.

Courts also appreciate that residential tenants may be families. This fact means that the repercussions of a failure in a lease can be far more difficult, especially where younger children are affected.

For commercial properties, there are fewer restrictions on rent increases and maximum lease terms. There are also usually stricter rules on security deposit repayments for commercial leases.


If you fall behind on mortgage repayments on a property you have purchased, the lending bank may be entitled to foreclose on the property.

This option means that they will claim the property and use it to regain the money they are owed on it. This process may be done by a simple sale, or by other means.

For business property, courts will often appoint a figure known as a receiver. This receiver is someone who will take over the running of your business for a time to secure as much repayment as possible for the lending bank.

Receivership is only possible in respect of commercial properties.

Families facing financial difficulty may experience emotional trauma with it as well. It is important to remember that anything you share with your lawyer is held in the strictest confidence and that they will be able to offer support and guidance, as well as practical tips, to help you through the challenges you face.

Property Requirements

There are different requirements in terms of the contents and facilities a property must-have, depending on whether it is a commercial or residential building.

Generally, these are more demanding when dealing with residential property. It is required that all residential properties have a kitchen and at least one bathroom, for instance.

There are fewer requirements in terms of what a commercial property must contain. However, these rules have gotten somewhat stricter in more recent times.

Many commercial leases will contain provisions forbidding tenants to live in the property. Similarly, many residential leases do not allow for the carrying on of business in the property.

Disclosure Requirements

Because of the assumptions made about the competence of parties to a commercial arrangement, disclosure requirements are less severe in commercial property law.

Generally, those buying or leasing residential property have the right to be informed of defects in the property.

Those acquiring commercial property are not so well protected. A greater duty falls on them to assess any shortcomings in the property. However, buyers and renters should always have the opportunity to thoroughly inspect the property.

The Differences Between Mortgages & Leases

Whether you are dealing with residential or commercial property, you will need to know about the features of mortgages and leases.

A mortgage is the loan instrument given to someone by a bank to be used for the purchase of a property. A lease is an agreement between a landlord and a tenant when the property is to be rented rather than purchased outright.

As noted above, mortgages carry the possibility of foreclosure. In the case of commercial mortgages, this process may also imply receivership.

As leases do not involve debts, their termination is more straightforward. A landlord can just end the renting relationship and re-purpose the property if he or she chooses.

However, there are legal rules against terminating a tenancy arrangement unfairly or without good reason. Again, the standards here are higher in respect of residential tenancies.

Finding the Philadelphia Property Lawyer that Best Suits Your Needs

By now, you should have an appreciation of the factors to consider when hiring a Philadelphia property law professional.

The differences in practice between residential property law and commercial property law can be significant. Not only that, but there can be variations within each type, depending on the nature of the transaction you’re entering.

Therefore, it is important to have the right lawyer alongside you every step of the way. If you are ready to take the first steps towards owning the new property of your dreams, contact us today to arrange a free consultation.

Criminal Law in Philadelphia: Are There Exceptions to Attorney-Client Privilege?

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by dintinolaw

criminal law in Philadelphia

We have all heard of attorney-client privilege, but we may not know precisely what the limits of that privilege are. If you are conversing with an attorney, you want to make sure that what you are saying will be kept confidential, so it is essential that you know what circumstances you can and cannot be completely candid.

What exactly is attorney-client privilege, and how does work when it comes to criminal law in Philadelphia? Continue reading, and we will walk you through everything you need to know.

What Is An Attorney-Client Privilege?

Attorney-client privilege is a rule that is meant to maintain the confidentiality of communication between an individual and their attorney. A client needs to make sure that he can trust his lawyer, and he should feel encouraged to share information openly. An attorney is going to have a difficult time giving their client the best possible representation if the client is worried about incriminating themselves.

The Client’s Privilege
So what exactly is the client’s privilege? Generally, this rule can be applied in three scenarios. A person receives this privilege when they go to a lawyer for advice and are either an actual or potential client.

It can also apply when the lawyer is acting in a professional capacity (as opposed to a casual friend). It also applies if the client intends for the communication to be private and confidential.

When this privilege is in force, a lawyer cannot reveal written or oral communications with other people when the client’s expectation is privacy. The client must first consent before their lawyer can share any private information with other parties.

In this situation, it is the client who is privileged. They get to decide what is and is not shared with others; the lawyer cannot decide this.

Generally, without the client’s permission, the lawyer can never share their private communications. Even if that person stops being a client or they are deceased.

Criminal Law in Philadelphia: The Other Way Around

So now we understand what client to attorney communication privilege is. But what about the other way around? What about the attorney to client communications?

Is a client supposed to keep private what their attorney shares with them? In Philadelphia and the rest of Pennsylvania, the answer is actually yes.

There was confusion over this for decades in the state. In 2011, with the case of Gillard v. AIG Insurance Company, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared that attorneys are also privileged to confidentiality. The reason for this was to encourage more open communication between clients and their attorneys.

Exceptions to Attorney-Client Privilege

Now, before you start giving confidential information to the next attorney you come across, you must understand the limitations to this essential privilege.

There are two primary situations where the exception applies. First, if the client intends to commit, or they are currently committing a crime or fraud, then the privilege does not stand.

Also, if the client tells their attorney that they are trying to cover up a crime or intending to further their offense, the privilege will not apply.

This privilege does not just apply to criminal law, but also with civil tort. For example, a person who goes to an attorney seeking advice on how to commit unlawful activity does not get the attorney-client privilege.

Past, Present, and Future

Timeline is critical when talking to an attorney. When you communicate with your lawyer about a past crime, you are pretty much always privileged. However, communicating about a current or future crime is generally not protected.

This situation does not mean the privilege is void if you are discussing hypothetical’s or the potential consequences of a possible action in the future. Generally, your intent to commit a crime needs to be current in order for your privilege to be inapplicable. Unfortunately, determining the present purpose and possible intent in the future is not entirely clear.

It may be up to the court if the client was intending to commit a crime or was inquiring about consequences if they should happen to take a specific action.

Mandatory Disclosure

It is worth noting that attorneys can be forced to divulge communications if the prosecution subpoenas them. This action applies to the crime-fraud exception. Lawyers can also be ethically required to disclose in certain situations or risk criminal charges themselves.

Let’s look at several situations below:

If the client threatens to harm another person, such as a judge, attorney, or witness, then an attorney might be responsible for reporting under mandated reporting laws.

If a lawyer knows that a witness has given or is about to give a perjured testimony, the lawyer must inform the court. It is worth noting that this rule may not apply if that perjuring witness is a client of the attorney.

If the client gives their attorney a crucial piece of evidence, then the attorney may be ethically required to turn it over to the court.

Also, if the client tells their lawyer about the location of a person who is in imminent danger or missing, the attorney may be required to disclose that information.

The Importance of Knowing About Attorney-Client Exceptions

Attorney-client privilege is one of the crowning achievements of the American justice system. But it is not without its exceptions. Even when it comes to criminal law in Philadelphia.

By knowing when the privilege does and does not apply, you can better protect your rights and make sure that you do not incriminate yourself.

Are you looking for a criminal defense lawyer who is going to fight to protect your rights? Contact us today to learn more!