Mistakes happen . . . especially in real estate. The legal options for fixing a real estate mistake vary based on the circumstances and the dispute that must be resolved.
Fortunately, Massachusetts law provides a number of causes of action for resolving these issues.
Getting Someone Off a Deed
When property is owned jointly by several owners, it is not uncommon for one owner to want own. If the parties cannot work it out on there are, there are several options available for such cases.
If someone is on a deed through a mutual mistake (where both parties erred in the drafting of the deed), fraud, accident, illegality, or unjust enrichment, a deed reformation may be a possibility. This is a court action asking for the removal of a party from the deed. Such a case, however, will only be available in these limited circumstances, and will generally not be viable if the other person was freely and willingly deeded the property.
In most other cases, the process of removing someone from a deed must be done through a partition case, which is a legal action to force a sale of property.
Discharging a Mortgage
When a mortgage is paid in full, a notice must be filed (“recorded”) in the land records stating that no further debt is owed on the property. Known as a mortgage discharge, this document is incredibly important for a later sale of the property.
Without a discharge, few (if any) prospective buyers will purchase a property, with the concern that a mortgage may still exist.
Getting Rid of An Adverse Claim To One’s Property
An adverse claim to property occurs when a property owner’s neighbor or abutter claims they own a portion of someone else’s real estate. When this occurs, the goal is to get rid of such an adverse claim as quickly as possible.
One means of fixing a real estate mistake such as this is through try title. Try title requires that the other party, who is asserting a adverse claim, to either pursue the claim, or lose it forever.