A tough one
We were commissioned to survey a lot in a small town less than an hour away. The nice elderly lady, Miss Hattie, is an absentee owner that lives ~75 miles away. She gave us an address and a copy of her deed. The deed was rather vague. So much so that there is no way to put it on the ground with any confidence without determining the property lines of all the adjoiners, whose descriptions are just as inadequate. As I looked up the adjoiners I found a plat done in 2013 by a reputable surveyor that showed the adjoiner as “Hattie Jones”. I figured we had it made at that point…. Famous last words. The address she gave matched the assessor’s map as to her lot. However, I was having trouble getting everything fit together. None of the dimensions made sense and the cardinal directions used seemed off by 90 degrees. The confusion was compounded by there being two identical addresses except one is road and the other is drive. The deeds seemed to use the two street names interchangeably when they are not the same. At one time Miss Hattie owned property on both streets. And there were two very distinctly different people named “Hattie Jones”. Their middle initials are different but those were rarely used in the old deeds. Is everything as clear as mud yet? Soon I got a call from Miss Hattie. Her daughter in law, who lives near the subject property, said she didn’t think the assessors maps had the correct lot. Over the phone Miss Hattie gave very detailed directions as if she were riding in the truck with me. Her directions did not take me to the lot shown on the tax maps, but past it by more than a hundred feet. The old homeplace had been her grandmother’s and she spent a lot of time there as a youth. Trouble is that the old house is gone and there are two mobile homes on that lot that are occupied by people she doesn’t know. They obtained the property by quit claim deed in 2013. I think the person that conveyed the property did own a lot in the area… somewhere. Nobody seems to know who owns the vacant house and lot where the assessors list Miss Hattie as owner. Like Miss Hattie’s property description, the adjoiner’s was too vague to put on the ground prior to the 2013 plat. The chains of title for the properties are worse than anything I’ve ever seen in my 35 years in this profession. Her deed stated that the property was also known as the old “H Smith” home. I questioned her about that name and the adjoiners named in the descriptions (that had been recycled for generations) that may be the only clues as to where exactly her property is. She’s in her 80’s and said they all must have been way before her time because none of the names sounded familiar. She gets a property tax bill every year and pays it. The assessors have her as owning a lot with a vacant house which she says isn’t hers. I can understand the confusion about where the lot is supposed to be. We advised her to seek legal counsel as we can’t survey for her, a lot that someone else claims and OCCUPIES until the ownership is cleared up. On the bright side, there is already a record plat of the property she says is hers. The one done in 2013 for the occupants.. I really feel bad for Miss Hattie. If what she says is true, and I believe her, the occupants most likely have already acquired the property by adverse possession. I didn’t bring that up. Her attorney can do that.
Log in to reply.