HB 1255 – Mississippi Marketable Record Title Act

Representative Snowden – Speaker Pro Tempore – introduced HB 1255 at the request of the Real Property Section of The Mississippi Bar.

The Mississippi Marketable Title Act (the “Act”) is designed to simplify land title marketability and extinguish ancient defects in title. The Act is based in large part on the Uniform Marketable Title Act promulgated by the Uniform Law Commissioners. To date, some 19 states have adopted some form of marketable record title act.

The Act is limited in scope. The Act is not designed to be a comprehensive system for determining the priority or validity of various competing title claims. Adoption of the Act will not affect Mississippi’s long-standing system for resolving the majority of title disputes. Nor would it create a surrogate method for determining the true title. Instead, the Act would create a mechanism that could be invoked by the presumed owner of a recorded title interest for the purpose of limiting a court’s review of the historical title in certain situations. Under the Act, a party with an unbroken chain of title of at least 32 years can establish legal title and extinguish ancient defects in title.

An examination under the Act first requires a determination of whether the party invoking the Act has “marketable record title,” which consists of an unbroken chain of title of at least 32 years. If this first element is established, the next question is whether one of several exceptions applies. If no exception applies, the Act will extinguish all other interests. If the party is unable to prove that marketable record title exists, then the Act becomes irrelevant to the title analysis, and the search for true title resumes. If the party is able to prove that marketable record title does exist, but one or more exceptions apply, then the party invoking the Act takes title subject to the exceptions.

While the Act will eliminate many clouds on title, it also recognizes a number of interests that are not affected by the Act. The following interests are excepted and do not have to be reasserted in order to be preserved: (1) rights disclosed on the face of documents by specific reference; (2) rights evidenced by a notice of intent to preserve; (3) rights arising out of a title transaction that was recorded after the root of title that were otherwise extinguished; (4) rights arising out of a covenant, condition, or easement actually in use; (5) rights arising of parties in possession; (6) rights arising out of a declaration in favor of an association; (7) rights of the U.S. government or state government; (8) rights of mineral interest holders; (9) rights arising out of a right-of-way for railroad, utility or ingress-egress purposes, or a conservation easement; and (10) rights of a lender arising out of a security instrument.

The effect of Act is to clear title for all real estate and to improve marketability. Real interests are preserved. Only ancient defects or interests that nobody will assert are extinguished.

If passed and signed into law, HB 1255 would establish the Mississippi Marketable Title Act. Read the bill!