land record documents

Validation of Defective Documents Recorded on the Land Records

Can Land Records Documents be Valid if Defective?

The land records of a town or county contain the relevant documents in regards to land ownership in the that location. Whenever buying or selling property, a title search must be performed to make sure the seller is giving the buyer clean title. Sometimes during these searches, attorneys come across documents that are defective, or missing something require by Connecticut law to make that document effective. One of the common areas where we have seen this is when individual attempt to create or manage their on trusts, but it happens in other situations as well.

The good news is, Connecticut General Statute 47-36aa can validate certain defects in recorded documents, as long as those documents were recorded 2 or more years earlier and have not yet been challenged in court.

What Kind of Defective Documents Can Be Validated?

CGS 47-36aa, known as the Validating Act, can cure defects in a multitude of common land records documents. The documents which can be validated if defective include:

  • Deeds
  • Mortgages
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Releases
  • Notices of Lease
  • other documents affecting real estate

What Kind of Document Defects Can Be Cured?

When searching land records, it is not simply enough that the document is there. Documents must be drafted in a specific manner, contain specific information, must be executed via specific procedures and be recorded in a specific manner; all of which is regulated by Connecticut law. While it is impossible to go over every type of defect that can occur in land record documents, here are the types of defects that can be cured by the Validating Act:

  • defective or non-existent acknowledgement (the person signing the document did it wrong or forgot to do it)
  • lack of a witness or witnesses
  • missing, incorrect or conflicting dates
  • where a business or trust entity is the grantor, but an individual signs the document in their individual capacity
  • where a business or trust entity is the grantor, but an individual signs without disclosing their authority to sign
  • a document signed under a power of attorney, but signed without referencing the power
  • if a document is signed under a power of attorney which is effective but not recorded until after
  • a document transferring property to a recipient who does not have the legal capacity to hold interest in real estate

What Kind of Defects CAN NOT be Cured?

The validating act does not cure any and all defects in documents that have been recorded yet unchallenged for 2 or more years. The following defects are NOT cured by the Validating Act and therefore make their documents invalid:

  • errors in or missing property description
  • errors in the names of relevant parties
  • Incorrect references in deeds, mortgages and releases (to other land record documents)
  • documents not signed by the original signature of the grantor
  • unrecorded or missing documents
  • defects in foreclosure proceedings
  • gaps in chain of title

How Do You Stop Defective Documents from Being Validated?

If you want to make sure that a defective land records document is not cured and validated, you must challenge the document by bringing a court action and recording a lis pendens within 2 years of the document being recorded.

tree over fence

Trees and Property Lines – My Neighbor’s Tree Is On My Property!

Trees As Encroachment Issues

What Can I Do If My Neighbor’s Tree Is On My Property?

The Tree Problem

A very common type of “encroachment” is when a tree, or any form of vegetation, grows onto or across somebody else’s property. What is an encroachment? An encroachment is like a trespass, but instead of trespassing with one’s body, the trespass is performed with a building, a fence, or for purposes of this article, a tree.

So why is a tree a problem? What can somebody possibly have against plants? Well, plants aren’t always as harmless as they appear. Roots can cause serious damage to foundations, lawns, fences, and drainage systems. Branches can block sunlight, impede construction or break and fall causing damage to whatever is beneath them. Fruit and Berries can fall onto decks and roofs and cause further issues. Finally, there is the ultimate right of a property owner to do what he wishes with his property (within the confines of the law) and not have it affected by the actions or wishes of another.

What Can a Property Owner Do?

So, your neighbor has a giant oak tree growing right against your fence. The branches extend tens of feet over the fence and onto your property. Its roots come up in your lawn, creating tripping hazards all over. In the Fall, it drops acorns and leaves all over your yard. What can you do to stop this nuisance?

Actually, this is one area where Connecticut law allows you to help yourself. You can chop out any roots that are on your property and cut off any branches reaching over your land. Your neighbor may complain but you are still within your legal rights. There are two exceptions, however; (1) You cannot cut down the tree completely or knowingly cause its death and (2) with FRUIT TREES, you cannot cut down the branches or take the fruit. Further, if you cut down somebody else’s tree where you knew it wasn’t your tree, you could be liable to the owner for up to 3 times the “reasonable value” of that tree (Conn. Gen. Stat. §52-560).

What If A Tree Or Branch Falls Onto My House or Car?

It is a possibility that a tree or branch will fall and damage somebody else’s property. This is possible with trees that are already encroaching or trees that are not encroaching while standing, but are once they fall. Sometimes, when these trees and branches fall onto the property of somebody else, they damage the house, a car, a fence or other property. However, the owner of that tree (or the land it was growing on) is not necessarily liable for the damage.

Factors that control an owner’s liability for damage caused by his tree falling on somebody else’s property are (1) whether they are a private owner or a commercial owner, (2) whether the tree was healthy or diseased/damaged, (3) did the tree or branch fall due to an “Act of God” such as a hurricane, or because it was unstable, and (4) are the properties located in a rural or urban area.


Encroachment Resolution

Many tree and vegetation encroachment issues can be resolved by negotiation. If your neighbor isn’t reasonable, you may want to have an attorney write a letter on your behalf explaining your rights and the actions you are going to take. When roots and falling branches or trees cause damage to your property, you may want to seek compensation from the responsible person or persons. If you are having encroachment issues with a neighbor, our real estate attorneys are ready to help.

Reading More on Connecticut laws regarding vegetation and real estate.