Linda DeBene, Esq.

T: 925-938-5060
F: 925-938-6732
Real Property

Linda DeBene, Esq. harnesses a 40 year legal career and 24 years as a California licensed real estate broker, as a mediator, arbitrator, and court-appointed neutral (including discovery referee and special master).  As a legal professional in California since 1978, Linda has developed a significant level of expertise in the real estate field as a litigator and transactional adviser to sellers, buyers, brokers, neighbors, lenders, and title industry clients. As an advocate,  Linda worked for both plaintiffs and defendants in real estate disputes seeking resolution through various ADR processes.

Since 1986, Linda has been stipulated to or court appointed as a Special Master, Discovery Referee, judge pro-tem, mediator, or arbitrator in hundreds of matters, and was  appointed as the ‘ tie breaker’ by joint owners to resolve management disputes regarding their property.

Applying polished negotiating skills in handling complex real estate transactions and litigation, Ms. DeBene's ADR practice expertise includes purchase and sale agreement disputes, partitions and quiet title actions, property line and easement matters, view corridors, landlord/tenant relations and conflicts, residential and commercial leasing, fraud/non-disclosures, wrongful foreclosures, and joint ownership disputes.

Representative Matters

Adjoining Property Issues:

  • Mediated to settlement varied partition, quiet title, easement, view corridor, use restriction, retaining wall failure, and trespass issues
  • Mediated to settlement and negotiated common roadway maintenance agreement issues, landscape easements, and lot line adjustments

Home Equity Sales Act Claims: Mediated cases to resolution

Homeowner/Contractor: Mediated to settlement a homeowner matter against contractor doing tear down and new construction. Claim was for violation of city setbacks, view corridor, and landscaping requirement. Following mediated settlement, arbitrated with same parties over violations of the settlement agreement, continuing neighbor actions at city meetings, and constitutional rights claims

Homeowner/Homeowner Association: Mediated to settlement numerous claims involving improper construction without HOA approval, design criteria violations, CC&R violations, road or slope maintenance disputes between homeowners and HOA, neighbor vs. neighbor issues, prohibited pool or outbuilding construction, tree related trespass or damage, house siting, and view obstruction claims

Joint Ownership Disputes: Mediated to settlement joint real property ownership disputes involving unrelated joint owners, widow vs. only child of deceased husband, siblings, splitting up "Marvin" owner/partners, grandmother vs. grand daughters, ex-husband vs. widowed husband, sisters (involving a claim for realtor breach of fiduciary duty and embezzlement claims over inherited rental properties)

Landlord/Tenant: Mediated to settlement disputes over residential and commercial leasing, first right of refusal/option, mold claims, restaurant roof and utility repair, back rent and damage to neighboring commercial tenant repair, lock out/abandonment. Arbitrated to judgment fair market value of restaurant lease dispute. As Superior Court judge pro tem tried to judgment (affirmed on appeal) landlord claim for waste and tenant affirmative defense claims for breach of option to purchase

Owner/Owner: Mediated to settlement numerous neighbor vs. neighbor private disputes involving new home construction impacting view and drainage issues. Mediated neighbors vs. church injunction action to stop church food giveaway program bringing the homeless to area

Public Utility: Mediated to settlement various public utility claims involving utility vs. utility property damage, utility vs. supplier of defective materials. As pro tem judge rendered reasoned award on a single small claim for damage resulting in large and small awards in hundreds of other pending claims arising from same event. Defended through settlement in favor of all defending parties a public utility claim filed by water district against developers in multi-party "blue water" dispute involving hundreds of homeowners, four developers, and scores of contractor parties

Real Property Sales Buyer/Seller Contract Claims: Mediated to settlement numerous cases involving residential, multi-family, and commercial contract interpretation claims, claims for return of deposit, for specific performance, and other breach of contract assertions

Real Property Sales Buyer/Seller/Broker Non-Disclosure: Mediated to settlement over 80 cases involving residential, multi-family, and commercial claims of fraud or non-disclosures involving sellers, buyers, and brokers. Arbitrated to judgment residential fraud matters involving broker claims of breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, fraud, and buyer claims of non-disclosure

Real Property/Broker:

  • Mediated to settlement breach of fiduciary duty and interference claims against real estate broker who submitted a contract for purchase in own name, usurped client’s purchase position in rented residential property, then evicted client from premises
  • Mediated to settlement commission disputes between brokers, seller-broker disputes regarding commissions, and standard of care claims against licensees

Real Property/Financing: Mediated to settlement demand exceeding $2.5 million under California Home Equity Act

Real Property/Fraud/Elder Abuse:

  • Mediated to settlement claim of elder abuse in conjunction with refinance of home
  • Mediated and settled 3 related fraud cases involving elderly and familial-related owners manipulated into signing over deeds using false identity and false claims

Realtor/Owner: Mediated to settlement claims by or against property owners/sellers involving unpaid commissions, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud/misrepresentation, and for disgorgement of commission for undisclosed personal benefit

Realtor/Realtor: Mediated to settlement and arbitrated to judgment numerous claims between real estate professionals involving commission splits, listing issues, indemnity claims

Sub-prime Lending: Mediated cases involving sub-prime issues. Lecturer and writer on sub-prime topics

Title Company: Mediated to settlement various title complaints involving property line errors, unrecorded easements, missed encumbrances, wrongful payment of lien from escrow, erroneous removal of encumbrance from title by overlooking forged release, and wrongful foreclosure claims

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Member, Academy of Court-Appointed Masters, 2008 - present; Board of Directors and Membership Chair, 2011 - present, (
  • Accredited at The Sedona Conference: E-Discovery Dispute Resolution Program for Special Masters & Mediators, January 2010
  • Admitted to Practice California, 1977; Florida, 1971 (inactive); U.S. Supreme Court, 1978
  • Real Estate Broker, California, 1987 - present
  • Appellate Mediator for the First District Court of Appeals; Third District Court of Appeals; and Northern District, California – Federal ADR Mediator Program
  • Completed over 340 hours of ADR training in a variety of areas including special master, e-discovery, mediation, arbitration, negotiation skills, and specific practice areas
  • Recipient of inaugural "Service to the Judiciary" award, Contra Costa County Bar Association, 1999
  • Frequent Lecturer: JAMS presentations, Contra Costa County Bar Association's ADR Committee and Real Estate Section; State Bar Real Estate Retreat
  • Author of various subprime, real estate and ADR-related articles

Background and Education

  • JAMS Neutral, 2005 to present
  • Private Practice, Real Estate , Construction, and Commercial Transaction and Litigation, 1978 - 2005
  • Felony and Appellate Prosecuting Attorney, State of Florida, County of Broward, 1972 - 1977
  • Associate, Private Firm, 1971 - 1972
  • J.D., Stetson College of Law, St. Petersburg, FL, 1971
  • B.A., Stetson University, DeLand, FL, 1968


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

DeBene_Linda_Real Property_938