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Slander of Title

Slander of Title

Slander of title is the publication of a false claim about someone else’s real property that causes harm to the property owner. Property owners may bring slander of title lawsuits against people who have made false claims about their property that lower the value of the property in the eyes of other people. A slander of title lawsuit may only be brought for false claims about land and the buildings and fixtures permanently attached to it. Owners of cars, boats, luxury goods, or other personal valuables cannot bring slander of title lawsuits for false claims made about these things because they are movable and not attached to land.

A person slanders the title of another by publishing a false claim against the other person’s property to a third party in a way that damages the property owner. Slander of title most commonly occurs when someone fallaciously records a lien (most commonly a mechanic’s lien), encumbrance, document, or legal claim with the county recorder’s office in the county where the property is located. The property owner is damaged because the false claim can be seen by the public once it is recorded, and people interested in buying the property will learn about the false claim when they look up the property. Property buyers almost always check to see if any of these items are attached to a property they are looking to buy. Buyers are usually less likely to purchase a property with these items attached. Publication also occurs when someone communicates a false claim to even a single other person, so long as the person is a third-party and their hearing the false claim damages the owner of the property in some way.

The property owner will generally win a slander of title lawsuit if they can show two things: first, that the claim was untrue, and second, that the claim damaged the value of their property. Some states also require the owner to show that the person who published the claim did not have a good reason to do so. Several states, including Indiana, require the property owner to prove the claim was published maliciously, that is, with the intent to cause damage to the property owner. Other states merely require that the person who recorded the claim knew or reasonably should have known that the claim would cause damage.

To avoid being sued for slander of title you should be careful that anything you record against or say about another person’s property is in fact true. Do not make a derogatory claim about someone else’s property simply because you are angry with the owner or think the claim is accurate. Be sure to first verify that your claim is true before you make it. Carelessness and anger are not worth the headache of a lawsuit or the burden of having to pay damages to someone for hurting the value of their property.

Alternatively, you can bring a slander of title lawsuit against someone else if they have recorded a false claim against your property without justification. An attorney can help you determine whether a claim about property can be the grounds for a slander of title lawsuit or not. If you are interested in bringing a slander of title lawsuit or are trying to avoid one, contact the experienced Indiana real estate attorneys at McNeely Law to discuss your options.

This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.

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