Torrens property is an interesting animal in the realm of real property. If an item is raised on the Certificate of Title it is deemed to affect title; if it doesn’t appear on the Certificate it is deemed not to affect title. In this article, we’re going to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of Torrens property when it comes to writing title.
Torrens Property Benefits
A significant benefit of the Torrens system is that you cannot adversely possess Torrens land. Once it is registered as Torrens land, if someone is using some portion of that land hostile to the interests of the owner, the owner is protected from any claim of ownership by the adverse (or hostile) party.
Let’s say we’ve got a 40 acre parcel of Torrens land and the neighbor happens to be farming the eastern 20 acres of that land. If it was not Torrens property, then the neighbor who is farming adverse to the owner’s interest has an argument where they could bring a title action in court to obtain title to that property.
You can’t do that with Torrens land. That land cannot be adversely possessed by someone who is not listed on the Torrens certificate. So it’s a great protection against those adverse interests that can often arise along boundaries.
Downsides of Torrens Property
That’s not to say that Torrens is always perfect. In fact, Torrens land can often pose some challenges to those of us working in real property conveyancing because if it’s an interest listed on the Certificate of Title then it is unquestionably deemed to affect the property.
So you run into circumstances where perhaps you have an old mortgage that arose 20 years ago where you can look at the history and feel certain that it has been paid off but not satisfied of record. It lingers on the Torrens Certificate even if there is no underlying debt. If that lender is still in business then you can contact them and potentially obtain a satisfaction that you can then record to delete the memorial of that document from the Certificate. However, if that lender is out of business or if they have been acquired by another lender – those can be very difficult to track. In turn, this makes it difficult to obtain a satisfaction. Now you have a mortgage that you feel confident doesn’t affect the property any longer, you feel confident it’s been paid off, yet the lien remains and you can’t just ignore it. It’s going to linger on the Torrens Certificate until it reaches its statutory expiration, which can be far off in the future.
Insuring Over Interests & Liens
That’s just one example of the litany of things that can linger on a Torrens Certificate of Title that aren’t easy to eliminate. That doesn’t mean we can’t insure over them. Depending on the circumstances, the title insurance company may be able to offer affirmative insurance against enforcement of that particular interest or lien that appears on the Torrens Certificate. However, you’re going to find that the title insurance company is not going to be willing to assume any liability or obligation for removing that matter from the Torrens Certificate.