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Gulden v. Sloan

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Plaintiff sued Defendant for specific performance after Defendant failed to transfer title to Plaintiff when purchased and took possession of the home where Plaintiff lived and Plaintiff move into the mobile home, previously occupied by Defendant as agreed.

     

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    If part performance of an oral agreement for the sale of real property clearly and unequivocally demonstrates the existence and terms of the agreement, the part performance may exempt the agreement from the statute of frauds.

    Facts.

    Gulden (Plaintiff) leased a house in Imperial Valley and had the option to purchase the house for $62,400. Having difficulty paying the lease, Plaintiff and his landlord agreed that Plaintiff could keep any amount that exceeded the $62,400 if Plaintiff found another purchaser for the home. Sloan (Defendant), whom Plaintiff had known for thirty years, expressed interest in purchasing the Imperial Valley home. Plaintiff alleged that he and Defendant agree that Plaintiff would abandon his purchase option and Defendant would purchase the home for $68,400 and give Plaintiff title to Defendant’s mobile home. Defendant purchased and took possession of the Imperial Valley home and Plaintiff moved into the mobile home, however, Defendant did not transfer title to Plaintiff.

    Issue.

    Whether part performance of an oral agreement for the sale of real property may exempt the agreement from the statute of frauds.

    Held.

    Yes. The trial court’s ruling is affirmed. If part performance of an oral agreement for the sale of real property clearly and unequivocally demonstrates the existence and terms of the agreement, the part performance may exempt the agreement from the statute of frauds.

    Discussion.

    Preponderance of the evidence is not enough in these cases; the main concern is finding proof that iscertain enough to remove all doubt about the oral argument. Moreover, the evidence must not point to the existence or creation of some other relationship between the parties or to another justification for partial performance. Unquestionably, there is a partial performance when Defendant and Plaintiff exchanged residences and keys. There was no landlord-tenant relationship because Plaintiff did not pay rent to Defendant. Defendant’s allegations of their friendship or charity motivating the exchange is unpersuasive. Plaintiff and Defendant have known each other for thirty years, however, their relationship does not appear to be strong or long-lasting enough to explain Plaintiff living rent free in Defendant’s mobile home.


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