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There is a common misconception among some property owners that once you buy the land, you can do whatever you want with it. Those property owners often find local, state, and federal zoning laws a rude awakening.

Even those people trying to live as off-the-grid or low-impact as possible may find zoning laws in their way. The tiny house movement, a whole lot of hipsters and environmentalists trying to live within very little spaces, is running into its own zoning problems. So if you're dreaming of living simply inside of 500 square feet, do some research first, before local zoning laws give you a reality check.

As fires in Sonoma County, California rage on, the first concern is safety: getting residents out of harm's way and getting injured residents necessary medical treatment. And when the flames are out, people will turn to rebuilding and compensation for property lost to the fires.

Most residential and commercial property owners will turn first to their insurance policies, fingers crossed that they cover fire damage and natural disasters. If you're filing an insurance claim after a fire -- or wondering if your policy covers fire damage -- here's what you need to know:

Just like any other contract, a lease agreement binds both parties, landlord and tenant, to abide by its terms. And, just like any other contract, a lease agreement can be broken. And while most of us are familiar with the repercussions of tenants breaking a lease -- late fees, loss of security deposit, eviction, etc. -- what recourse does a tenant have if it's the landlord violating the terms of a lease agreement?

Here's a look:

Guns and Drugs: FAQ for Renters

Renting an apartment or house can be a tricky thing -- in so many ways, it's your space; but in so many other ways, it is clearly not. Can I paint this wall? What's the limit on house guests? Why can't my pit bull live here?

And varying opinions and state laws on marijuana and gun ownership can only complicate matters further. So here are some of the biggest questions regarding guns and drugs on rental properties, for renters:

No private party can ban you from owning a gun. However, if you rent your home, your landlord might be able to prevent you and other tenants from bringing, or keeping, a gun in your own home. Also, know that you can be evicted for possessing a gun if your rental or lease agreement prohibits it.

While the Second Amendment does protect the rights of gun owners, it only protects those rights from governmental intrusion, just like the First Amendment and free speech. This means that unless your landlord is a governmental entity, like a city, or state, agency, or receives state or federal funding for rental assistance on your property, the Second Amendment is unlikely to apply.

Whether it's legal to shoot or kill trespassers is one of our most common property law questions. Short answer: generally only in self-defense and in fear of bodily harm or death. And while we normally don't think of animal trespassers in this light, perhaps we should.

An unidentified Texas man was recently hospitalized and had his jaw wired shot after a bullet he fired at an armadillo in his yard at 3 a.m. ricocheted off the animal's armor and struck him in the face. The status of the armadillo is unknown, but the man's unfortunate fate raises an interesting legal question: When can you legally kill animals on your property?

Generally speaking, once you sell your house, the buyer is free to do with it what they will. This can be a hard fact of life for some who, despite the need or desire to sell their home, is still emotionally attached to the place they once lived. New homeowners are normally free to paint the house some gaudy yellow color, tear out the kitchen cabinets you installed, and even rip out your favorite plants.

But in some instances there may be ways for sellers to place conditions or restrictions on the home sale. Here's a look.

The repayment time of a home mortgage loan can run anywhere from 10 to 50 years, and a lot can happen in that amount of time. You may need to relocate for work, or want to relocate for retirement. You may add children to your nest or become empty nesters, necessitating more or less space. Or maybe it turns out the house you bought just isn't for you.

There many reasons we would want to sell a home, but is it possible to sell your home if you haven't paid it off yet? Here's what you need to know, legally, about selling a home if you still owe money on your mortgage.

We've all heard horror stories about homeowners' associations, imposing fines or even eviction notices on residents for grass that's too brown, playhouses that are too pink, families that are too big, and yard decorations that are too time-travely. And while all those stories seem ridiculous, the standard legal response is often, "Well, that's what you get with an HOA -- gotta abide by the agreement."

But what if a community is saying you can't buy or inherent a home because you practice the wrong religion or you're not religious enough? Surely that has to be illegal, right?

Stories of squatters gaining title to the properties they trespass upon are the urban legends that keep landowners awake at night. Under adverse possession laws, it is actually possible, albeit rather difficult, for a squatter to gain legal title.

Landowners need to be aware of their rights when dealing with squatters, as many jurisdictions do provide squatters with some legal protections. For instance, if a squatter is actually a holdover tenant, or sub-tenant, meaning a renter who has stayed beyond the terms of their rental agreement, the formal eviction process will likely be required to remove the squatter.