What constitutes property ownership? - Posted by Tim (CT)

Posted by J Merchant on August 20, 2002 at 09:44:43:

Generally, any binding agreement regarding ownership interest in realty must be in writing,(state’s laws on this are known as Statute of Frauds) and a buyer is only legally charged with knowledge of things he can see in recorded docs (or can be proved to have received notice of, such as a certified letter, etc.) …so, any claim NOT in writing and not recorded is very difficult for a claimant, such as a tenant, to press successfully.

This is the reason why it’s a good idea for most anybody with any kind of claim to an ownership interest in realty, to have something recorded, such as Memo of Equitable Interest, etc…just so anybody checking the title will come across it and know that there’s SOMETHING going on between the claimant and the title owner.

And, of course, this is the reason for the buyer to have the title checked, and get title insurance on realty where possible, because the buyer can then rely on the title company’s written statements as to absence of title problems. If, when, title company screw up and misses something, the damaged buyer has a claim against the title company and the title insurance policy.

What constitutes property ownership? - Posted by Tim (CT)

Posted by Tim (CT) on August 19, 2002 at 18:07:22:

Sorry, I posted this on the other forum but realized it might be better on this board. Here goes:

I purchased a 2-family unit subject to the existing mortgage. 10 months ago the seller - we’ll call her Mary, who lives on the first floor, tried to buy the house with the tenant who lives on the second floor - we’ll call her Lisa. They were both going to own it. The mortgage broker told them that they could get a better interest rate if Lisa was not on the mortgage. So, Mary secured financing (including monies for the downpayment) and when the closing occured, only Mary was on the Warranty Deed. Lisa does not show up anywhere.

When I did my due diligence on the property, I researched the Warranty Deed at the county courthouse to see who the owners of record were and only Mary’s name showed up. So, Mary was the only one I dealt with.

At this point, I’m trying to evict Lisa because she’s behind on her rent to me by 2 months (I’m about 4 weeks into the eviction process). Lisa replied back to my attorney saying that I can’t evict her because she owns the property? If she’s not on the deed, how can she own the property or even own a percentage of the property? Do I have an issue here? I posed that question to my attorney and he said that she wasn’t the owner but he didn’t know what kind of document she could have to show otherwise? Is there anything that could be in her posession that would show ownership other than her name on the deed?

Thanks in advance.

Re: What constitutes property ownership? - Posted by JHyre in Ohio

Posted by JHyre in Ohio on August 20, 2002 at 05:18:00:

Evict Lisa, her issue is with Mary. Mary had ownership and sold you the property. If she a deal with Mary, that’s between her and Mary- assuming that you had no knowledge of Lisa’s purported interest when you purchased…if you did have such knowledge, then you may or may not have an issue, depends on local law…I’d say probably no issue even then if you were the only one making payments once you acquired title, because Lisa’s lack of payments, knowledge of the transfer and failure to immediately object implies her consent to your purchase.

As always, local legal expertise trumps my general musings.

John Hyre

Re: What constitutes property ownership? - Posted by Tim (CT)

Posted by Tim (CT) on August 20, 2002 at 06:39:47:

Thanks for your time and your reply. One more if I may: Would Lisa have any claim to the property because she’s living there and has paid some monies towards the mortgage payments (a.k.a. rent)? And, btw, I did have knowledge of their “verbal agreement” to both own the property. But, I did not feel the need to approach Lisa about the purchase of the property because I believed her not to be the owner because she had no document to prove ownership.