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Should I enter into a settlement for real property where the owner on title claims to have gotten on title by fraud?

Los Angeles, CA |

I filed a claim for adverse possession in California. No defendants have any interest in the property and the person on title & the mortgage co. on record have agreed to enter into a settlement reconveying the deed of trust & transferring the property to me. The mortgage co claims the mortgage has in fact been paid in full; the person on title, however, denies true ownership and believes to have been place on title by an act of fraud/forgery by a third party. The attorney for the owner includes language in the settlement to his effect. The settlement would also contain a general release and a confidentiality clause. Is there cause for concern with respect to me gaining clean title? should i suggest eliminating such language since we are entering into a settlement?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    There are several issues raised by your post.

    If the record owner is conveying a deed of trust, the language in a confidential settlement agreement may not matter because it is unlikely that the title company will ever see it. However, the issue it raises is whether the person conveying the deed of trust has the ability to convey the property and whether there is someone out there who may have a claim to ownership. If you are aware of the trust, you claim would likely not survive a challenge by the person who was defrauded.

    You may be better off letting the adverse possession action proceed to judgment.

    If this answer was helpful, please mark it as helpful or as a best answer. This answer is for general education purposes only. It neither creates an attorney-client relationship nor provides legal guidance or advice. The answer is based on the limited information provided and the answer might be different had additional information been provided. You should consult an attorney.


  2. Unless you have a reputable title insurance company willing to insure your title based upon this settlement, I would have great concern for you.

    Did you file a lawsuit seeking title by adverse possession, and did you serve all possible defendants?

    You really ought to have an attorney review the proposed settlement agreement. A confidentiality clause seems quite odd for an adverse possession claim.

    Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.


  3. I see several problems with respect to you gaining "clean title." You may have eliminated the defendants you mention but you cannot eliminate the “whole world” through a settlement with only the named defendants.

    I assume you have filed suit and recorded the necessary notice of pendency of action. Given the facts you now know, i.e., that the individual on title claims title was procured by fraud -- you may have an obligation to further research the record title to discover additional defendants to name in the quiet title action.

    In any event, you will need a default prove-up hearing and will need to prove your claim including that you have paid taxes on the property for 5 years. See my blog post: No Default Judgments in Quiet Title Cases: Period
    https://www.mrdaymude.com/no-default-judgments-in-quiet-title-cases-period/

    Since you will need to prove your title the confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement may make that difficult as may the assertion that title in the name of the present holder of record was procured by fraud.

    I strongly suggest you have an attorney familiar with quiet title actions review the present facts of the case with you. Good luck.

    I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for general information only. They are not legal advice. Answers must not be relied upon. Legal advice must be based on the interplay between specific exact facts and the law. This forum does not allow for the discussion of that interplay. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if that interplay were explored during an attorney-client relationship. I provide legal advice during the course of an attorney-client relationship only. The exchange of information through this forum does not establish such a relationship. That relationship is established only by personal and direct consultation with me followed by the execution of a written attorney-client agreement signed by each of us. The communications on this website are not privileged or confidential and I assume no duty to anyone by my participation on Avvo or because I have answered or commented on a question. All legal proceedings involve deadlines and time limiting statutes. So that legal rights are not lost for failure to timely take appropriate action and because I do not provide legal advice in answer to any question, if you are an interested party you should promptly and personally consult with an attorney for legal advice. Also, see Avvo's terms and conditions of use, specifically item 9, incorporated by this reference

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