LAW 516-001 – Property II

Present Covenants


Present covenants are breached, if at all, at the time the deed is delivered.

Seisin

Seisin is the right to immediate possession.

The substance of the covenant of seisin is usually a promise that the grantor actually owns the property rights that the deed purports to convey.

Right to Convey

The covenant of right to convey warrants that the grantor has the legal right to transfer title.

Against Encumbrances

The covenant against encumbrances warrants that there are no encumbrances on the land which would decrease its value.

Encumbrances, as defined for marketable title, generally apply to deed covenants against encumbrances.

Marketable Title

Marketable title is a title not subject to reasonable doubt of defects that would decrease its market value.

There are generally three defects that can make title unmarketable:

  1. Flaw in the seller's title
  2. The existence of an encumbrances on the property not reasonably knowable to the buyer
  3. Events that have deprived the seller of title

Physical defects normally cannot constitute title problems.

The existence of public restrictions do not affect marketability, but courts are split as to whether a violation of these can.

  • However, private restrictions can.

Courts are split on whether adversely possessed title is marketable.

Courts are roughly evenly split between two rules as to what the damages are for defective title.

  • English Rule

    Under the English Rule, the buyer is limited to a return of his money.

  • American Rule

    Under the American Rule, the buyer may recover benefit-of-the-bargain damages—typically the contract price minus the fair market value at the time of the breach.