District Court Grants Summary Judgment for Title Insurer Due to Statute of Limitations

The United States District Court for the Northern District of California recently granted summary judgment for Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company (“Commonwealth”), finding that the insured failed to bring the claim within two years of its discovery. See Hayward Prop., LLC v. Commonwealth Land Title Ins. Co., 2021 WL 4503457 (N.D. Cal. 2021). In the case, CNF Properties (“CNF”) owned the property at issue.  The property was originally four parcels before CNF converted it into two parcels (“Parcel One” and “Parcel Two”) in 1997. 

Eleventh Circuit Finds County Abandoned Easement Through Ordinance Expanding Use

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently overturned a decision by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, holding that an ordinance (the “Ordinance”) enacted in Walton County (the “County”) terminated an easement that the County held over a strip of land. See A Flock of Seagirls LLC v. Walton County Florida, 7 F.4th 1072 (2021).

Ninth Circuit Finds Bank May Set Aside HOA Sale Conducted During Bankruptcy as Void

In a split decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently determined that the Bank of New York Mellon (the “Bank”), as first deed of trust lienholder, could challenge a homeowner’s association’s (“HOA”) sale of a property as a violation of an automatic bankruptcy stay, giving the Bank superior title. See Bank of New York Mellon as Tr. for Certificateholders of CWALT, Inc., Alternative Loan Tr. 2005-54CB, Mortg. Pass-Through Certificates Series 2005-54CB v. Enchantment at Sunset Bay Condo. Ass’n, 2 F.4th 1229 (9th Cir. 2021).

Colorado Supreme Court Upholds Prescriptive Easement for Condominium Association

The Colorado Supreme Court recently upheld a lower court’s holding that a condominium association that regularly used a parcel of land that abutted the association’s property had acquired a prescriptive easement on the parcel.  See Lo Viento Blanco, LLC v. Woodbridge Condo. Ass’n, Inc., 489 P.3d 735 (Colo. 2021).  In 1975 L.R. Foy Construction (“Foy Construction”), owned by Lyle Foy (“Foy”), built condominiums on and conveyed a large parcel of land to the Woodbridge Condominium Association (“Woodbridge”), but did not convey a smaller parcel of land (“the disputed parcel”) that sat between the conveyed parcel and a gravel road. 

Montana Court Affirms Summary Judgment for Title Company in Conveyance Dispute

The United States District Court for the District of Montana recently upheld a Magistrate Judge’s recommendation for summary judgment for a title company, finding that coverage terminated when the insureds conveyed the property to their trust. See Green v. Chicago Title Ins. Co., 2021 WL 4476446 (D. Mont. Sept. 30, 2021). In this case, William Green and his wife Esther (“the Greens”) had purchased land in Montana in 1989 as joint tenants with right to survivorship, and purchased title insurance from defendant shortly thereafter.

New Jersey Adopts Legislation Requiring the Removal of Discriminatory Restrictive Covenants in Deeds and Association Documents

On November 8, 2021, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation, A-5390/SB-2861, that requires the removal of discriminatory language restricting the ownership or use of real property as prohibited by the Law Against Discrimination from all deeds recorded on or after January 1, 2022, and further requires homeowners’ or condominium associations to immediately review their governing documents and remove such language. Although these covenants already are illegal and unenforceable, the bill aims to remove them entirely. The bill takes effect immediately.

Florida District Court Finds for Mortgage Provider in RESPA Claim

The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, recently found for a mortgage provider in a dispute over whether the mortgage provider properly applied a customer’s mortgage payments. See Munoz v. CitiMortgage, Inc., 2021 WL 4133748 (M.D. Fla. 2021). Sheila and Raymond Munoz (“Plaintiffs”) executed a note and mortgage on their property in 2006, and CitiMortgage (“Citi”) serviced the mortgage from 2008 to 2019, at which time Cenlar began servicing the mortgage.

California Court Finds for Defendant Bank in Adverse Possession Dispute

The California Court of Appeals, Fifth Appellate Division, recently found for defendant Citibank, N.A. (“Citibank”) in a dispute over the ownership of property in an unincorporated area of southern California. See Bailey v. Citibank, N.A., 66 Cal. App. 5th 335 (2021). Plaintiffs Charles and Kimberley Bailey took possession of property in Frazier Park, California (the “Property”) in 2013, and claimed to be rightful owners based on their alleged adverse possession thereof for a five-year period.