Property ownershipMay. 11, 2012
This year, Assemblymember Ben Hueso (D-Chula Vista) introduced AB 2226, “Agency Proceedings: Evidence: Presumption”, which clarifies that the holder of a property title is the owner and assures that that well-established concept for deciding property ownership is applied consistently and uniformly in proceedings before public agencies.
Traditionally, questions regarding ownership of property have been addressed by the courts. The California Evidence Code, section 662, creates a presumption in court proceedings that the title holder is recognized as the owner of the property except when there is unequivocal evidence to the contrary. Evidence Code section 662 states, “The owner of the legal title to property is presumed to be the owner of the full beneficial title. This presumption may be rebutted only by clear and convincing proof.” The holder of title is recognized as the owner of the property except in extremely limited circumstances that are beyond reasonable dispute.
However, the California Coastal Commission has taken a much more conservative view of ownership, grouping parcels together that are owned by different individuals or entities, in order to impose its will on property owners and restrict development. A landowner should not be afforded less protection in state and local agency proceedings than they are afforded in California’s courts.
Stable and predictable title is an essential element of a healthy real estate economy. Buyers must be assured that they are acquiring all of the rights that are incident to ownership. CMTA and other business and industry associations support AB 2226. The bill passed the floor of the Assembly and has been referred to both the Judiciary and Natural Resources Committees in the Senate.
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