Could Your Land Title Dispute Result in a Lawsuit?
For the most part, people prefer to stay out of court. However, sometimes that’s just not an option. In many cases, land title disputes cannot be settled amicably. Unfortunately, this is even the case in some inheritance matters. The only route seems to require pursuit of a lawsuit to find a resolution.
Keep in mind that you could be on either side of a land title dispute. On the one hand, someone could accuse you of something like adverse possession. (We’ll explain further what this means.) On the other, you may find yourself needing a lawyer to protect your interests. This means finding an attorney with experience in litigating real estate matters.
Land Title Disputes: Adverse Possession
There are a number of common issues that constitute land title disputes. Among them, are conflicts concerning adverse possession. Texas law offers a definition of adverse possession in the Civil Practice and Remedies Code, under Section 16.021. Understandably, you may find the formal language a bit confusing.
The statutory definition of adverse possession is: “an actual and visible appropriation of real property, commenced and continued under a claim of right that is inconsistent with and is hostile to the claim of another person.” But, what does that mean exactly?
Squatters are perhaps the most dramatic illustration of adverse possession. Though they are trespassers, they may attempt to claim property ownership. In most cases, they may have squatted on the land for a considerable amount of time. Additionally, the squatters will not have secured permission or paid any fees to the real property owners.
Notably, it is up to the individuals or company that owns the land to pursue a claim for adverse possession. There are a couple of time limitations that apply to this type of legal action. For that reason, it is wise to speak with an attorney early to discuss your concerns.
Land Title Disputes: Defective Title
As you most likely know, a title is an important part of every real estate transaction. Under Texas Code, a title is defined as “a regular chain of transfers of real property from or under the sovereignty of the soil.”
Unfortunately, there are times that defective title can hold up the transfer of property. For instance, it could be that a transfer was improperly recorded. Likewise, the real estate could be encumbered by unpaid liens. In some cases, it may be that the proposed seller does not actually own the property.
Let’s start with addressing the problem with title defects that are due to mistakes. For example, there is the issue of properly recorded documents. Additionally, there can be clerical errors on the title. Your attorney will work on your behalf to correct the issues.
As far as unpaid liens, some investigation will be necessary to discover if liens were paid off and not released. Again, this is something your lawyer will determine and advise you as to your course of action.
In some cases, a seller may misrepresent the authority to release property. Candidly, some may appear to be deceptive practices. Meanwhile, it is also possible that someone inherited property and did not consult with an attorney to ensure a proper transfer.
Land Title Disputes: Other Cases
We’ve provided you with two examples of where it is important to seek legal counsel for a land title dispute. In a previous article, we also discussed property line disputes. However, there are other reasons you may have to pursue a lawsuit regarding land title issues.
For example, if you have zoning or land use issues, it may be prudent to determine whether legal action is advisable. Again, problems regarding inheritance of real property may also require evaluation.