Can Real Property Be Injured? A Brief Look at Slander of Title.

Real Estate Law

When we think of injuries and actionable torts, things like car crashes or slips and falls tend to come to mind.

So you may be a bit surprised to learn that real property can also be injured.

Of course, the cause of action we are talking about doesn’t require that the land suffer an actual injury or damage the way a person would suffer an injury.

Rather, we are talking about an injury to one’s interest in real property.

Nevertheless, injury to property —if proven— can be a source of litigation and recovery for damages.

The cause of action to recover for injury to real property is called “slander of title.”

In today’s post we’re going to take a brief look at what is involved in slander of title.

Slander of Title Basics

You may know that in personal injury law, “slander” is an oral statement about a person that is not true, that “defames” him or her and causes him (or her) damage— generally damage to his/her reputation.

In real property law, the “slander” being focused on concerns a person’s interest in real property.

Thus, “slander of title” refers to an action that the owner of real property may bring if someone falsely impugns (either orally or in writing) his title to the property and the owner is damaged thereby.

Although slander of title may arise by oral statements, the claim most often involves the recording (publishing) of documents pertaining to title to real property. This could be, for example, the improper recording of a lis pendens or a mechanic’s lien, or even falsified deeds. Each one of these examples involves the claim of another to the property owner’s real estate which places a “cloud” on title.

In many instances, slander of title is part of an overall action to quiet title to real property.

Without going into too much detail, proving slander of title requires proving each essential element of the claim. This means that a plaintiff must prove:

  • Ownership of an estate interest in the subject property
  • Publication of oral or written statements (about title)
  • Falsity (i.e., that the statements were false)
  • Malice (i.e., that the false statements were made with malice)
  • That plaintiff suffered specific special damages to his/her estate in the land.

While slander of title is similar to personal action for “defamation,” there are some significant differences between the two—beyond the fact that one involves a person’s reputation and the other concerns one’s title to real property.

Chief among these is proving damages in a slander of title action.

Proving Slander of Title Damages Requires Specific Evidence

In a slander of title action, the plaintiff must prove that his/her interest in the real property was damaged by the false and malicious publication. Generally this means he/she must prove a reduction in the market value of the property.

In addition, a slander of title action requires a plaintiff to prove his/her special damages with particularity. This means that it is not enough to allege that the value of the property dropped. To succeed in his or her claim, a property owner must present evidence that establishes the specific dollar amount of damage he/she suffered.

Your real estate is an investment worth protecting. If you believe someone has injured your real property, contact an experienced real estate attorney.

Our Experience is Your Advantage.

At the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C., our clients benefit from our experience. We have extensive experience in real estate law. We have offices in Cumming, and we serve clients in Atlanta, Gainesville, Gwinnett County, Bartow County, Hall County, Henry County, Cherokee County, Clayton County, Cobb County, and other counties throughout Georgia. To find out what we can do for you, contact us here, or call today: 770-888-7707. Or you can e-mail us with inquiries at: lawofficesofmarkweinstein@gmail.com

 

 

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