May 15, 2023


In this article, readers will learn about the complex topic of title disputes. From understanding their causes and types, including boundary disputes and lien disputes, to strategies for preventing and handling them through title searches and engaging a real estate attorney. dh sdho shsd oshd

The article also provides information on resolving title disputes, such as boundary agreements and removing liens, as well as the aftermath of a title dispute, including recording the new title and maintaining positive relationships with neighbors.

Understanding Title Disputes

Definition of a Title Dispute

A title dispute occurs when two or more parties assert conflicting rights or interests in a particular piece of real property. These disputes can involve ownership, possession, boundaries, or other claims related to the use or enjoyment of the property.

Title disputes can be costly and time-consuming to resolve, and they can also create significant uncertainty for the parties involved.

Causes of Title Disputes

Title disputes can arise for a variety of reasons. Some common causes include:

  1. Ambiguous or inaccurate property descriptions on deeds or other recorded documents.
  2. Errors or omissions in recording property transactions, such as mortgage releases, easements, or liens.
  3. Conflicting claims arising from adverse possession or prescriptive rights.
  4. Fraud or forgery involving property ownership or transfers.
  5. Inaccurate or outdated information on property surveys or boundaries.

Types of Title Disputes

There are several types of title disputes that can arise, including:

  1. Boundary disputes: These disputes occur when neighboring property owners disagree about the location of their shared property line or the right to use or access a particular area of land. Boundary disputes may arise due to inaccurate surveys, encroachments, or discrepancies in property descriptions.

  2. Adverse possession claims: In some situations, a person may claim ownership of another person’s property by asserting that they have occupied, and used the land in a way that is open, notorious, continuous, and adverse to the true owner’s property rights for a statutory period of time.

  3. Lien disputes: Liens are legal claims against property held by a creditor to secure payment of a debt or obligation.Disputes over liens can arise when the debtor disputes the validity, priority or enforceability of the lien, or when multiple lienholders claim competing interests in the property.

  4. Encumbrances and easements: Encumbrances are third-party interests or rights in property that can limit or burden the owner’s use or possession, such as easements or restrictive covenants. Disputes may occur when one party seeks to enforce or terminate these encumbrances or when conflicting claims exist over their scope and validity.

  5. Quiet title actions: A quiet title action is a legal proceeding used to establish the ownership or other property rights by clearing any defects, claims or encumbrances on the title.

How to Prevent Title Disputes

Obtaining a Title Search

One of the most effective ways to prevent title disputes is by conducting a title search before purchasing or assuming an interest in a property.

A title search involves reviewing public records to identify any potential issues, including liens, encumbrances, or other defects in the property’s ownership history.

Conducting a thorough title search can help uncover problems and address them before they escalate into full-blown disputes.

Title Insurance

Another important tool for preventing title disputes is obtaining title insurance. Title insurance is a type of indemnity insurance that protects against financial loss due to defects in title or other ownership issues.

When a property owner obtains a title insurance policy, the insurer will defend against claims arising from covered title defects and compensate for losses up to the policy’s limit.

Proper Recordation of Documents

Ensuring that all property-related documents are properly recorded in the local land records can help prevent title disputes by providing notice of transactions, claims, and interests.

Proper recordation helps maintain an accurate public record of property ownership and can reduce disputes resulting from unrecorded or inaccurately recorded documents.

Clear Communication with Neighbors and Other Parties

Open and clear communication with neighboring property owners and other parties who hold an interest in the property can also help prevent misunderstandings and disputes.

Discussing potential issues or concerns early on can facilitate resolution and prevent disputes from escalating.

Handling Title Disputes

Identifying Potential Issues

The first step in handling a title dispute is to identify the nature of the dispute and the parties involved. This may involve reviewing deeds, surveys, and other property documents, as well as researching relevant laws or court decisions.

Each type of title dispute presents unique challenges and considerations, so it is important to thoroughly understand the issues at hand.

Negotiation and Mediation

Before pursuing litigation, the disputing parties may attempt to resolve their differences through negotiation or mediation. In some cases, a neutral third-party mediator can help facilitate the discussion and identify potential solutions, allowing the parties to reach a mutually agreeable resolution without resorting to costly and time-consuming litigation.

Engaging a Real Estate Attorney

If negotiation or mediation fails to resolve a title dispute, or if the issues involved are particularly complex or contentious, it may be necessary to engage a real estate attorney with experience handling similar matters.

  1. Document Review: The attorney will review all relevant documents, including deeds, surveys, title searches, and correspondence, to determine the strengths and weaknesses of their client’s case.
  2. Legal Research and Analysis: The attorney will research the law, review court decisions and legal precedent, and apply their findings to the facts of the case to develop appropriate legal strategies.


When all attempts at negotiation or mediation fail, litigation may be the only option remaining to resolve a title dispute. The litigation process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Filing a Complaint: The attorney will draft and file a legal complaint in the appropriate court, detailing the issues in dispute and requesting specific relief or damages.
  2. Discovery Process: During the discovery phase, both parties exchange information and evidence relevant to the case in a formal and structured manner. This can include the exchange of written questions, document production, and depositions.
  3. Motions and Hearings: The parties may file motions to dismiss, for summary judgment, or for other procedural matters, and the court may hold hearings to address these motions and make decisions on them.
  4. Settlement or Trial: In some cases, parties may reach a settlement agreement, avoiding the need for a trial. If not, the case will proceed to trial, where a judge, or occasionally a jury, will make a final determination on the disputed issues.

Resolving Title Disputes

Boundary Agreements

Boundary disputes can sometimes be resolved through voluntary agreements between the property owners, in which they agree to a specified boundary or take other steps to address the dispute, such as moving or removing encroachments.

Easement or Encroachment Agreements

If an easement or encroachment issue is at the heart of a title dispute, the parties may agree to a legal agreement that defines the scope of the easement, establishes maintenance responsibilities, or otherwise addresses the issues at stake.

Removing a Lien

Lien disputes may be resolved by removing the offending lien from the property, either by paying the debt or obligation that gave rise to the lien, or by obtaining a release or satisfaction from the lienholder.

Quiet Title Actions

In some situations, a quiet title action may be necessary to resolve a title dispute. A quiet title action is a lawsuit that seeks a court order to declare a specific party’s ownership rights, remove competing claims, or otherwise clear defects from the property’s title.

Finalizing Resolution Documentation

After reaching a resolution, the parties must ensure that all necessary documents are filed and recorded to memorialize the agreement and update the property records. This may include deeds, boundary agreements, lien releases, or court orders from a quiet title action. Proper documentation ensures that the resolution is recognized and enforceable in the future.

Aftermath of a Title Dispute

Title disputes concerning property boundaries can be a significant source of tension and stress for homeowners. After a title dispute is resolved, several essential steps need to be taken to ensure that the affected parties can move forward amicably and uphold the terms of the settlement.

Let’s explore four crucial aspects of managing the aftermath of a title dispute: recording the new title or agreement, updating property maps and surveys, financial implications, and maintaining positive relationships with neighbors.

Recording the New Title or Agreement

Once a title dispute is resolved, either through negotiation, mediation, or a court judgment, the new title or agreement must be documented and recorded with the appropriate government agency. Typically, this involves the county recorder’s office or the land registry.

It is crucial to have the updated title or agreement properly recorded, as this ensures the property’s correct ownership and legal rights are recognized by the public and any future disputes can be prevented.

To record the updated title or agreement, the winning party’s attorney or title company will typically draft a new deed reflecting the updated property boundary and ownership rights. This deed should be signed and witnessed by all relevant parties, and it may also need to be notarized depending on local requirements.

Once the new deed is prepared, it should be submitted to the county recorder’s office or land registry where the property is located. The recording fees and the exact process for recording the new deed will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Updating Property Maps and Surveys

In conjunction with recording the new title or agreement, it is crucial to ensure that the property maps and surveys are updated to reflect the latest boundary changes. This is important for several reasons.

First, it can help avoid future disputes by providing an accurate and legally recognized foundation for determining property rights.

Second, it can protect the property owner from potential liability issues, such as encroachments or violations of local zoning regulations.

Lastly, updating the property maps and surveys may be required to maintain compliance with title insurance policies or mortgage conditions.

To update property maps and surveys, the affected property owners should hire a licensed surveyor or civil engineer who is familiar with the local area, local land use restrictions, and the specific case’s details.

The surveyor or engineer will then create a new survey map that accurately reflects the agreed-upon or court-ordered property boundaries, using the metes and bounds or the rectangular system. Once the new map is complete, the property owner may need to submit this updated survey to their title insurance company, mortgage lender, or other relevant parties.

Financial Implications

There can be significant financial implications for homeowners following a title dispute. Resolving a boundary conflict can be costly, with expenses related to attorney fees, court costs, and payments to surveyors or civil engineers. These costs may need to be addressed promptly to avoid further legal issues or financial strain.

If the dispute results in a loss of property or land, this can impact the property’s value and potentially create tax consequences for the property owner. In some cases, a loss of property may also result in a reassessment of the property’s value by local tax authorities, leading to changes in property tax liability.

Property owners should consult with a tax professional or attorney to address any potential tax implications that may arise.

Maintaining Positive Relationships with Neighbors

After a title dispute is resolved, it is essential to focus on maintaining positive relationships with neighbors affected by the dispute. Such disputes can strain neighbor relations, and it is crucial to take steps to rebuild trust and goodwill.

Consider discussing the matter calmly and openly with your neighbors, expressing your commitment to moving past the disagreement and working together to maintain a positive living environment.

It can also be helpful to establish clear lines of communication and mutual understanding of each other’s property rights and responsibilities, such as maintaining fences, landscaping, or party walls. Encourage open lines of communication and a collaborative approach to prevent similar issues from recurring in the future.

In conclusion, managing the aftermath of a title dispute involves properly recording the new title or agreement, updating property maps and surveys, addressing the financial implications, and working towards restoring positive relationships with neighbors.

By taking these steps, property owners can protect their legal rights while fostering a cooperative and harmonious neighborhood environment.

Title Disputes FAQs

1. What is a title dispute in real estate?

A title dispute in real estate refers to a disagreement or conflicting claims concerning the legal ownership or rights to a specific property. Disputes typically arise when multiple parties claim ownership or when rights to use, access, or develop land are challenged.

2. How do title disputes occur?

Title disputes can occur for various reasons, including fraud, forgery, clerical errors, undisclosed or missing heirs, incorrect legal descriptions, easement disputes, or liens. They usually result from a lack of accurate information or misinterpretation of ownership documents.

3. How can title disputes be resolved?

Resolving title disputes often involves negotiation between involved parties, mediation, or litigation. In some cases, a title insurance company can provide assistance in settling disputes or providing compensation for covered risks. Professional legal guidance is recommended.

4. What role do title insurance companies play in title disputes?

Title insurance companies provide a means of protection for property owners against potential title disputes. These companies conduct thorough research on the property’s history before issuing a policy and can help defend against claims or provide compensation for covered losses.

5. Are title disputes common in real estate transactions?

Although title disputes are not prevalent in every real estate transaction, they can occur, especially in situations involving older properties, complicated ownership histories, or dubious documentation practices. Conducting thorough due diligence and obtaining title insurance can help mitigate potential disputes.

6. How can a real estate attorney help in resolving title disputes?

A real estate attorney possesses the knowledge, experience, and expertise necessary to navigate complex legal matters associated with title disputes. They can assist in reviewing property records, advising on legal procedures, and representing clients in negotiations or litigation to resolve disputes.

About the Author

As a native Washingtonian, Carlos Reyes’ journey in the real estate industry began more than 15 years ago when he started an online real estate company. Since then, he’s helped more than 700 individuals and families as a real estate broker achieve their real estate goals across Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.

Carlos now helps real estate agents grow their business by teaching business fundamentals, execution, and leadership.

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