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Purchasing or selling property is often one of the most exciting times in a person’s life. However, when issues with the property title arise, it could put a damper on the entire experience. Fortunately, a skilled lawyer can help.

If title disputes come up at any point during a purchase or sale of a property, a qualified real estate attorney can help.

What is a Title Dispute?

When you sell a home, you’re transferring title to the buyer. When you buy a home, the previous owner transfers title to you as the new owner. Property titles are crucial to real estate transactions.

When there’s a property title dispute, also known as a title defect, some issue is present that prevents the transfer of a “clean” title. When a title is not clean, or “clouded,” it impairs the owner’s right to be able to sell the property.

To sell a property, a clean title is vital. A title dispute can make selling a property and transferring title impossible.

5 Most Common Types of Property Title Disputes

There are many types of property title disputes. The most common disputes are as follows.

1. Errors in the Public Record

Changes in property ownership are always reflected in the public record. While clerical mistakes happen frequently, they can seriously affect a property’s title. Errors are made in a split second, but fixing these issues can be time-consuming and costly.

2. Encumbrances

When a property has an encumbrance, it means another party has a legal claim to the property or some part of the property. The most common types of encumbrances are easements and liens.

An easement gives an individual, business, or local government legal access to some part of the property. For example, your neighbor may have an easement allowing them to use a path on your property to get to their property. The rights afforded to these parties under an easement depend on the type of easement.

Liens are typically placed on a property by a creditor the property owner has failed to pay. For instance, if you fail to pay your property taxes, the government can place a lien on your property. Outstanding debts must be paid to remove a lien and restore a clean title.

3. Boundary/survey Disputes

Multiple surveys may exist on a property, making the boundaries of the property unclear. When boundaries are in question, a neighbor could have a legal right to some portion of your property.


Real estate documents can be forged. If documents associated with a property were forged and later come to light, this could affect the owner’s rights.

Similarly, false impersonation could be an issue. Someone in the past may have falsely impersonated a property owner, and if an individual purchases a property from a fake owner, it could later affect their legal rights to the property, if discovered.


When a person passes away, their estate plan dictates what happens to their property and assets. If they did not have a will, the state decides who gets the decedent’s property and assets.

Unfortunately, an heir who was not known at the time of the person’s death could surface and claim a legal right to the property, jeopardizing the current owner’s rights.

Consult With a New York Real Estate Attorney

Merlino & Gonzalez is ready to help New York clients facing property title disputes. We have years of experience in real estate law, and our knowledge and skills allow us to get to the bottom of any title problem and resolve it quickly and efficiently.

Contact our firm today to schedule a meeting with one of our real estate lawyers in New York.