Sunday, July 03, 2011

Ms. Shelp is suing her title insurance company.

When Theresa Shelp bought 544 Eynon St. in Scranton two years ago, she said she thought she was living a dream.

But Ms. Shelp, 43, now says she is stressed over the house, which continues to have problems such as mold. The property also is at the center of a lawsuit Ms. Shelp has filed against the city and three companies. She claims in the lawsuit that she suffered financial distress and emotional pain after buying the house, which was condemned at the time. The city eventually evicted her, but she later was allowed to return after the city lifted the condemnation.

Please read the article and comment.  I wonder if Ms. Shelp filed a title insurance claim before deciding to sue.  There is no mention of that in the article.  I also wonder is the title insurance agent ordered and received a municipal lien letter.  If they did, the letter ought to have uncovered the municipal condemnation.

We have had two situations in which municipal lien letters were received by our office showing NO outstanding municipal issues only to find PRIOR to closing that there were serious unresolved matters.  In these two cases, buyers uncovered the problems while talking with local folks.  In both cases we had lengthy chats with the municipal officers about the procedures for issuance of municipal lien letters and the discovery process.  You can't just issue lien letters without having a system in place which gives accurate information concerning property in that jurisdiction.

Real world advice.  To those who examine title and issue title insurance, make certain you carefully check the local municipal records.  To those who issue municipal lien letters or are charged with enforcement of zoning matters, make certain your procedures include disclosure of outstanding matters when queried.  Title agents discover municipal problems by requesting letters from municipal offices.  Make certain you know who is issuing these letters and that they have a system for giving accurate reports.  To everybody, keep your eyes and ears open and never assume that people have good and complete information.  If you hear something that is of concern, raise it with all parties to make certain everyone is on the same page.  It's always better to find problems early and avoid claims and law suits later, eh?


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