Living La Vida Local

exemption up to $250,000 for your condo sale, you can't use it again for 24 months (even if you meet the 24 out of last 60 months ownership and occupancy test for your house).
The upside is that since your girlfriend co-owned and occupied the house at least 24 of the last 60 months before its sale, she is now eligible for up to $250,000 tax-free principal residence sale profits. To make your half of the house sale eligible for up to $250,000 tax-free profits, you need to wait at least 24 months after your last use of the IRC 121 exemption.


Q: With all of the title insurance scandals going on, we were wondering, How long does a property owner's title insurance policy last?
- Paul D.
Santa Monica

A: An owner's title insurance policies are in effect as long as the property buyer or the heirs own the property. The policy is valid in case an insured title problem arises. Keep that policy as long as you own the property. It will even protect your heirs from title risks.


Really enjoyed reading the 'Be Prepared' article...if "enjoy" is the right word... Please send me the other info you have compiled. Thanks!
- Mary K.


Just a note of thanks to you for the excellent information you've provided in keeping me informed of the happenings around Santa Monica. To me SM is one of the very finest cities in America!

Robert D.


I want to congratulate on your article in the Wed. Dec. 21 Santa Monica Daily Press on Feng Shui and architecture and detail. Excellent, thank you very much.

- Anonymous


Oregon curbs Imminent Domain

On a list of states with the worst property-rights protections, Oregon has long held a top position. So hearty congratulations to that state's landowners, who this week won a long struggle for more control over their acreage, and in the process may become a model for land-use reform across the country.

Their victory came in a unanimous Oregon Supreme Court decision upholding a 2004 ballot measure designed to curb "regulatory takings." Oregon lawmakers have spent 30 years perfecting the art of imposing their environmental agenda by restricting how landowners can use or develop their own property, whether it be building a new house or cutting down trees.

Oregon's ballot measure, which passed with a mere 61% of the vote, required authorities to either compensate landowners for any reduction in the value of their property, or exempt them from the regulations. This was the second time voters had passed the measure, the first version having been tossed out on a technicality by the state's notoriously liberal Supreme Court.

This time, however, the state's highest court surprised everyone by declaring that its only job was to examine whether the measure contravened the state constitution (it clearly did not), and that whether the measure is "wise or foolish, farsighted or blind, is beyond this court's purview." What brought about this healthy new respect for democracy isn't clear, although it could be the court is weary of intervening on behalf of every advocacy group that loses an initiative vote.

In any case, the decision is especially timely as a response to the U.S. Supreme Court's egregious Kelo decision of last year. Other states are crafting versions of Oregon's law, and a few, such as Wisconsin, had put legislative efforts on hold pending the outcome of Oregon's litigation. This week's victory may well inspire more Americans to continue defending that most basic of Constitutional rights: owning property.

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I bought my house a couple of years back. My partner lives with me, but the mortgage and title are in my name alone because I have better credit. My partner gives me money each month to go toward paying the mortgage. Is this considered rent and is it taxable? – Kory P.

Those in the know say that from the way you describe your scenario, the money you receive from your partner is rent that you should report on Schedule E of your income tax return.

Furthermore, as the house is in your name alone, and you are not married to your partner, you are entitled to depreciate part of the house rented to your partner. Also, you can deduct part of applicable expenses such as part of the insurance and household repairs on Schedule E.

Unless your partner is legally obligated to pay half the mortgage payments and property taxes, they will have a tough time taking income tax deductions for the payments made to you.

For a better understanding of this scenario, please consult a family law attorney and tax adviser.