Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Void vs. Voidable Deeds & The Effect Of Forged Documents

A recent ruling by the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, had the opportunity to address the following question:
  • "Does the use of a deed that is neither a forged document, nor signed with a forged signature, but which derives its transactional vitality from forged corporate articles of amendment, render a conveyance of land void ab initio, or, is good title transferred to bona fide purchasers for value without notice?" [ie. is the conveyance of land rendered merely voidable?]
For a number of reasons, the court ruled that a forged signature on the articles of amendment does not operate to void the deed ab initio.

The court's ruling contains an analysis of the 'void/voidable' and 'forgery-false pretenses' distinctions and the role they play in the protection granted under the recording statutes. A person otherwise qualifying as a bona fide purchaser under the recording act receives no protection under a `void' deed. On the other hand, a person otherwise qualified as a bona fide purchaser for value does receive protection in purchasing from one whose title is merely 'voidable.'(1)

For the ruling, see Scotch Bonnett Realty Corporation v. Matthews, 417 Md. 570; 11 A.3d 801 (January 21, 2011).

See Julian v. Buonassissi, 414 Md. 641, 997 A.2d 104 (2010), for another recent ruling by the Maryland Court of Appeals, in which the court addressed the issue of whether a deed of trust that violated the Maryland Protection of Homeowners in Foreclosure Act (ie. the state's 'anti-sale leaseback, equity stripping' statute) was void ab initio or whether it was merely voidable (ie. where a bona fide purchaser for value gets the protection from the recording statutes).

Go here for more on Void & Voidable Deeds.

(1) 9 Thompson on Real Property § 82.12, at 650-51 (2d Thomas ed. 1999). DeedVoidVoidable

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