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A Blog about Real Estate, How it Can Be Damaged, and Disputes Over its Transfer

This blog is a personal blog written to discuss legal issues affecting Georgia property, and how it is damaged, transferred, and fought over. I write this partly to keep abreast of the law, and partly to offer a forum for my writing. In order to find content, I often analyze Georgia Supreme Court decisions. I try to update this blog as I can, but writing is a time consuming process.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Incorporation by Plat Does Not Establish Ownership Contrary to Deed Description

Sometimes a legal description to land in a deed does not match up with what is shown on a recorded plat.  When this happens, the deed description prevails.  In Washington v. Brown, the Georgia Supreme Court issued an opinion rejecting a claim of title to land based on a referenced plat on the grounds the land in the plat did not match the legal description in the deed.  Washington v. Brown, Case No. S11A1551 (Fe. 6, 2012).  The court cited the 1956 case in Johnson v. Willingham, 212 Ga. 310, 311 (1), in reaching this conclusion. The court held the legal description trumped the plat reference.

The Washington case also rejected a claim of adverse possession under the shortened period for color of title.  The court held the plat reference was not sufficient to invoke color of title thereby requiring a showing of adverse possession for the longer, 20 year period.   The squatter had failed to show continuity of possession for 20 years and had to rely on the 7 year argument requiring color of title.

The most interesting part of the Washington decision was the result of the case.  The suit was between two landowners in a quiet title action.  The party losing the plat argument in the supreme court had prevailed before the special master and before the superior court -- on the appeal from the special master.  Because the special master in the proceedings below had previously ruled against the appellant's claim of title, the result of the court's opinion appears to be that both parties to the land dispute lost their claim to the disputed land! 

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