Chenoweth Law Group

Real estate dispute over sorority house heats up

Sorority houses, like fraternity houses, are often viewed as institutions where memories are made. Hundreds of sorority sisters and fraternity brothers will come and go through their halls, studying industriously and earning their degrees while making social connections that may very well last for the rest of their lives. However, buildings in sorority and fraternity systems can be just as vulnerable to conflicts over land and buildings as any other. That is the case in a dispute between Alpha Omicron Pi Fraternity Inc., and the company that controls that Alpha Omicron Pi sorority house at UC Berkely.

At issue is a claim by AOP Inc., that the local company, Sigma 1916, has not been acting in accordance with a 2005 directive from AOP. The directive told Sigma 1916 to alter their bylaws. The alteration involves transitioning to "coordinated property management" according to AOP's public relations assistant director. Members of Sigma 1916's board has expressed concern about that.

They say that it could lead to problems like an increase in property taxes. According to a member of the Sigma 1916 board, costs could increase in the amount of $1,000 per collegiate per year. The overall property is currently valued at $4 million, according to the most recent appraisal.

AOP offered a settlement proposal last September. It would allow Sigma 1916 to retain the title to the house, keep local alumni on the board and let students keep living there. The board recently voted on one aspect of the settlement proposal and hopes to resolve the matter successfully. This case shows how real estate disputes can arise in any circumstances where multiple parties with competing interests are involved.

Source: The Daily Californian, "Alpha Omicron Pi sorority house at center of multiyear real estate dispute" Alexander Barreira, Feb. 26, 2015

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