Glossary of Legal Terms – R





This glossary should not be relied upon as legal advice. It is provided for general informational purposes only. To properly advise on any given situation requires a knowledge of the facts surrounding that situation. Laws and the statutory definitions of terms will vary from state to state. Specific questions should be directed to an attorney licensed in your state.

Radon:   A ground-generated radioactive gas that seeps into some homes through sump pumps, cracks in the foundation and other inlets. A leading cause of lung cancer , radon is found in mostly the northern half of the country.

Rafter:   Rafters form the slope of a pitched roof and are analogous to floor joists.

Rammed-earth construction:   An alternative building process in which dirt is compacted into large structural frames to create walls.

Ranch style:   Modern ranch-style homes, popularized in the 1950s, were championed by such architectural giants as Frank Lloyd Wright.

Rate lock:   When interest rates are volatile, many borrowers want to “lock in” an interest rate and many lenders will oblige, setting a limit on the amount of time the guaranteed interest rate is in effect.

Rate-improvement mortgage:   A loan with a clause that entitles a borrower to a one-time cut in the interest rate without going through refinancing.

Reach-back period: The period immediately prior to filing the bankruptcy within which transfers of money or property may be deemed fraudulent or preferential.

Reaffirmation agreement: Agreement between the debtor and the creditor that states the debtor will pay all, or a portion, of the balance owed on the installment agreement, even though the debtor has filed bankruptcy. In return, the creditor promises that, as long as payments are made, the creditor will not repossess or take back the personal property constituting the collateral for the debt.

Real estate agent:   A real estate agent has a state license to represent a buyer or a seller in a real estate transaction in exchange for a commission. Most agents work for real estate brokers.

Real estate attorney:   A lawyers who specializes in real estate transactions.

Real estate broker:   A real estate agent who is licensed by the state to represent a buyer or seller in a real estate transaction in exchange for a commission. Most brokers also have agents working for them, and are entitled to a portion of their commissions.

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) :   The trusts are publicly traded companies that own, develop and operate commercial properties.

Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) :   A federal law designed to make sellers and buyers aware of settlement fees and other transaction-related costs. RESPA also outlaws kickbacks in the real estate business.

Real estate:   Land and anything permanently affixed to it, including buildings, fences and other items attached to the structure.

Real Evidence: Tangible evidence produced at trial which is capable of being physically inspected.

Real Property: Land, and whatever grows on or is affixed to it.

Real property:   Land and any permanent fixtures on it, including buildings, trees and minerals.

Realtist:   A designation for an agent or broker who is a member of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers.

REALTOR®:   A designation for an agent or broker who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Reasonable Care: That degree of care that would ordinarily be exercised by a reasonably prudent person under similar circumstances.

Reasonable Doubt: The degree of uncertainty that compels a juror to find a defendant not guilty in a criminal proceeding; a realistic uncertainty, even if remote.

Reasonable Man (Person): A hypothetical individual who exercises that degree of care, knowledge and judgment that society ordinarily requires of its members.

Reasonable Time: That period of time which is ordinarily acceptable under the circumstances to respond or take some action.

Rebuttal: Argument or evidence presented by an attorney in response to statements, claims, arguments, or evidence of an opposing party.

Recess: A temporary adjournment or suspension of court proceedings.

Recission:   The cancellation of a contract by law or consent by the parties involved.

Reconciliation: Resuming the martial relationship.

Reconveyance:   When a borrower completely pays off the mortgage, the property is reconveyed to them from the lender.

Record: A transcript or papers transmitted from lower court to an appellate court upon which the appellate court decides the appeal.

Recorder:   A public official responsible for keeping the records of all real estate transactions.

Recording fee:   A fee charged by real estate agents for conveying the sale of a piece of property into the public record.

Recording:   The filing of a specific document to the appropriate government entity.

Recusal: The disqualification or voluntary withdrawal by a judge from a pending case due to the appearance of bias or lack of impartiality.

Redemption: The act of a bankruptcy debtor retaining title and possession of an asset for which there is a balance owed, by paying off in a lump sum the present value of the property and discharging any unsecured balance.

Re-direct examination: Opportunity to present rebuttal evidence after one’s evidence has been subject to cross-examination.

Redlining:   The practice by a bank or insurance company to deny credit or insurance to people based on ethnic background or neighborhood.

Refinancing:   The process of replacing an older loan with a new mortgage that has better terms.

Regulation Z:   The federal code issued under the Truth-in-Lending Act which requires that a borrower be advised in writing of all costs associated with the credit portion of a financial transaction.

Regulations: Rules and enactments of an administrative agency.

Rehabilitation mortgage:   A mortgage that provides for the costs of repairing and improving a resale home or building.

Rehearing: A re-trial or reconsideration of a case or an issue by the court at the request of a party.

Release: A written document evidencing the satisfaction of a debt; the giving up of some right, claim or interest.

Relenza: A medicine used to treat the flu. Some patients have had serious breathing problems while using Relenza, and it is no longer recommended for those with chronic respiratory disease.

Relevancy: The test applied to the quality of evidence to determine whether it is competent to prove a fact in issue.

Relief: Assistance or redress at the hands of the court.

Relocation benefits:   Benefits provided by employers for new workers and can include moving costs, reimbursement for temporary housing and transportation, real estate agent assistance and discounted loans.

Relocation company:   A firm that administers all aspects of moving in new employees to the community.

Remaining balance:   The amount of unpaid principal on a home loan.

Remaining term:   The original loan term minus the number of payments made.

Remand: The decision of an appellate court to send a case back to the trial court with instructions on how to correctly decide the case; often used with the term “reversed.” Reversed means that the appellate court overturned the trial court’s decision.

Remedies: Relief that the plaintiff receives from the defendant in a lawsuit. Often this will include monetary damages or equitable relief (i.e. injunctions).

Remittitur: The process or power of the court to reduce a jury verdict that is deemed to be excessive.

Removal Of Case: The transfer of a case from one court to another, generally from state to federal court.

Rendition: The filing of a signed, written order with the clerk of the court.

Rent loss insurance:   A policy that covers any loss of rent or rental value in the event of fire or other damage that renders the property uninhabitable.

Renter’s insurance:   A policy that covers the replacement value of possessions.

Reorganization: A form of bankruptcy in which an entity’s financial affairs are reorganized in order to provide relief from debt. Generally this will be done by rescheduling payments or discharging a debt.

Repayment plan:   When a borrower falls behind in mortgage payments, many lenders will negotiate a repayment plan rather than go to court.

Replacement reserve fund:   Money that is set aside from homeowners’ assessments to replace common property, such as furniture in a planned development’s community room.

Reply: A response to a pleading that has raised a new matter as a defense.

Repossession:   When a house is repossessed, it is taken back by the lender holding the mortgage.

Representative: One who acts for another with permission; an agent.

Repudiation: An act or declaration which clearly indicates that a party will not perform an act that a contract requires is performed in the future.

Res Ipsa Loquiter: Lat.: The thing speaks for itself. The Doctrine of Res Ipsa allows negligence to be inferred by virtue of the fact that an accident happened, e.g., a sponge found in the body of a patient after surgery.

Res Judicata: Lat.: A thing decided. The doctrine stating that a matter that has already been judicially determined is conclusive and is not subject to re-litigation.
Rescind: To cancel or nullify a contract, either mutually or unilaterally.

Resale value:   The future value of a piece of property that can be affected by many factors, including the surrounding neighborhood, school scores, and economic and housing market conditions.

Rescission: A judicial decree that cancels or annuls a contract; the termination of the contract by word or act of the parties.

Reserve fund:   All homeowners associations set aside a certain amount of money for major repairs or improvements.

Respondent: The party that won at trial.

Restraining order: A form of injunction used to restrain someone from doing a threatened act.

Restructured loan:   A mortgage in which new terms are negotiated.

Retainer: An initial or advanced payment to an attorney for services to be performed; the act of employing an attorney.
Return of Service: A writing made by an officer attesting to the fact that he/she served process (summons or subpoena) on a party, or that he/she was unable to do so.

Return on investment:   The amount of profit a property generates.

Reverse mortgage:   A special type of loan available to equity-rich, older owners. Repayment is not necessary until the borrower sells the property or moves into a retirement community.

Review: A re-examination of decisions, orders and proceedings of an inferior court by an appellate court; reconsideration.

Rezulin: A prescription diabetes drug that was used to control Type 2 diabetes in combination with insulin or sulfonylurea. Rezulin was recalled by the FDA because it was linked to liver failure.

RH Incompatibility: Results when the blood type of the fetus, or developing child, differs from the blood type of the mother.

RhoGAM: A medicine which was injected into pregnant women to avoid specific pregnancy complications. RhoGAM used to contain thimerosal, which some suspect is related to the development of autism.

Rider: An amendment or addition to a document or contract, especially an insurance contract.

Ridge board:   A horizontal board that serves as the apex of the roof structure.

Ridge vent:   A vent located along the ridge board of the roof that allows moisture to escape.

Right of first refusal:   An agreement by a property owner to give another person the right to buy or rent the property before it goes on the open market.

Right of Privacy: A generally accepted legal right to be let alone and live one’s life free from unwarranted publicity or intrusion. Disruption of the right of privacy may give rise to a cause of action or claim in tort.

Right of Way: A right of crossing or passage over the land of another; the strip of land on which the right of way is located.

Right to recission:   A provision in the federal Truth-in-Lending Act that allows borrowers to cancel certain kinds of loans within three days of signing.

Risk of Loss: A provision in a contract identifying the party who bears the risk of damage or destruction of property during its transfer from seller to buyer.

Rough-in:   The installation of plumbing, electrical and other mechanical systems.

Rural Housing Service:   A U.S. Department of Agriculture program that provides financing to farmers and certain borrowers to purchase rural property when other funds are not available.

R-value:   A construction term that refers to the resistance of to heat loss. The higher the R-value, the slower the rate of heat loss.