What are Common Issues with Land Title and How Can They be Resolved?

Intro to Issues with Land Title

Land ownership is a fundamental aspect of property rights, providing individuals and entities with legal rights to possess, use, and transfer land. However, issues related to land title can often arise, causing complications and disputes that require resolution. Understanding these common issues with land title and the mechanisms for resolution is crucial for maintaining clear and secure property ownership.

So, let’s talk about all the common issues with Land Title prior to going into a contract with a buyer.

Common Issues with Land Title

1. Title Defects

Title defects refer to any legal issues or discrepancies that affect the ownership of a property. These defects can include errors or omissions in public records, undisclosed heirs with claims to the property, and improper property descriptions. Title defects can arise due to clerical errors, fraud, or unresolved legal claims from previous owners.

2. Boundary Disputes

Boundary disputes occur when there is uncertainty or disagreement regarding the exact location of property lines. These disputes can arise due to inaccurate surveys, ambiguous legal descriptions, or encroachments by neighboring properties. Boundary disputes often lead to conflicts between landowners and may require legal intervention to resolve.

One time we were in contract to sell a lot in Bonita Springs Florida. We didn’t get a survey done prior to purchase. Upon reselling it after improving the lot with land clearing and fill, the new buyer’s survey revealed an encroaching structure from the neighbor’s property. It turned out the neighbor was meaning to remove the structure and he agreed to do so. Not all neighbors are compliant like this one.

land survey issues

3. Forged Documents

Forgery of land title documents can occur when individuals falsify signatures or alter deeds, mortgages, or other legal instruments related to property ownership. Forgery can cloud the title and lead to legal challenges over the validity of ownership. Detecting and rectifying forged documents is essential for ensuring the integrity of land titles.

Many times, landowners will want to encumber their property with a mortgage to limit the chances of fraud. Recently, we got a call from someone who wanted to “sell their land” in Cape Coral Florida. Well, I had my suspicions based on the person who stumbled on basic questions like how long they owned it and why they were selling. Regardless we went into contract with this “seller.” I relayed my suspicion to the title company, and when they requested them to have multiple verification processes, the “seller” stopped replying.

4. Unpaid Liens or Mortgages

Unpaid liens or mortgages on a property can complicate the transfer of ownership. A lien is a legal claim against the property as collateral for unpaid debts, while a mortgage represents a loan secured by the property. Failure to satisfy these financial obligations can result in foreclosure or legal action, affecting the title’s marketability.

Many times, we don’t run into mortgage issues rather city or county liens that cause Issues with Land Title. Some land sellers have never been to their property only to find out it has been a dumping ground for contractors.

5. Missing Heirs or Co-owners

In cases where property ownership involves multiple parties, complications can arise if heirs or co-owners are missing or unidentified. Uncertainty regarding rightful heirs or co-owners can lead to disputes over ownership rights and hinder property transactions. Resolving these issues may require extensive genealogical research or legal proceedings.

Be sure to read this article about preventing probate to avoid issues with land title.

Resolving Land Title Issues

1. Title Searches and Insurance

Conducting a comprehensive title search is essential for identifying potential issues with land titles. Title insurance provides protection against financial loss due to defects in title, offering coverage for legal expenses and indemnification for losses arising from title disputes. Obtaining title insurance can help mitigate risks associated with unclear or contested land titles.

In all of our transactions of us buying land, we pay for title insurance.

title defects on land

2. Legal Remedies

Seeking legal remedies through litigation or alternative dispute resolution mechanisms may be necessary to resolve complex land title issues. Legal professionals specializing in real estate law can assist in interpreting property documents, conducting negotiations, and representing clients in court proceedings. Resolving disputes through legal channels can clarify ownership rights and facilitate property transactions.

3. Survey and Boundary Determination

Engaging licensed surveyors to accurately delineate property boundaries can help prevent boundary disputes and clarify ownership rights. Surveying techniques such as GPS technology and aerial imaging enable precise mapping of land parcels, reducing ambiguity and potential conflicts. Resolving boundary disputes through surveying can provide clear evidence for legal adjudication or negotiation.

4. Clearing Title Defects

Addressing title defects requires diligent research and legal action to rectify errors or disputes affecting property ownership. This may involve obtaining affidavits, curing defects through court proceedings, or negotiating settlements with affected parties. Clearing title defects is essential for establishing marketable title and ensuring the transferability of property.

If there are any title defects, we always work with our sellers and title companies to resolve these issues.

5. Communication and Collaboration

Effective communication and collaboration among stakeholders, including property owners, real estate professionals, attorneys, and government authorities, are vital for resolving land title issues. Open dialogue facilitates the exchange of information, identification of potential problems, and cooperative efforts to find solutions. By working together, parties can streamline the resolution process and minimize conflicts.

Issues with land title can pose significant challenges for property owners, affecting ownership rights, transactions, and financial interests. Addressing common issues such as title defects, boundary disputes, forged documents, unpaid liens, and missing heirs requires proactive measures and collaboration among stakeholders. Through diligent research, legal remedies, and effective communication, land title issues can be resolved, ensuring clear and secure property ownership for individuals and entities.

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