An owner of commercial real estate usually obtains a title report when he or she is purchasing a property or refinancing it. However, an owner should be aware that an easement or lien may have been placed on the property without his or her knowledge in the absence of obtaining a title report.
A lien may have been filed against the property from various sources; such as, the IRS, State of California or a vendor or creditor. These attached liens can prevent the owner from selling the property or refinancing, before the release of the claim. Easements placed on a property as rights of way by the Federal or State agencies notify an owner in advance most of the time; however, private easements are not required to notify an owner and can become a valid easement in California after five years of continuous use without the owner’s objection.
The unbeknownst owner who has this easement recorded against his or her land may have a serious problem with selling the property. As a result, it is this writer’s opinion to the owner to access to a Preliminary Title Report well in advance of considering a sale or refinance on the property. It may take several months or years to remove an easement from the property when it comes to a tax lien.
Liens or easements are a great way to extort money from the land owner. In some cases the lien or easement holder may not have a valid claim for the use of the property or money owed. Preliminary Title Reports are easily obtained through the owner’s real estate agent or lawyer at no cost. I suggest that every few years an owner should request a title report for peace of mind.