Protect Your Property With A Notice of Adverse Claim

Q: I signed a Contract to Sell/Deed of Absolute Sale but the title is not yet in my name. Is there something I can do to protect my right as a buyer while I still don’t have the title?

A: Yes. You can prepare a ‘notice of adverse claim’ and request the register of deeds to annotate such claim on the title.

Q: What do you mean by annotate?

A: Your notice of adverse claim will be mentioned on the title itself. So, when any other person checks the title, they will see that you bought it already. This is helpful in preventing double sales (i.e. if the seller or another party attempts to sell the property again, even after it was sold to you).

Q: What is the legal effect of the notice of adverse claim?

A: Any transaction/transfer with or of the title to the property will be ‘subject to’ your claim. For instance, if someone purchases the property and is able to transfer the title to his name, the ownership of the property is ‘subject to’ you claim – giving you a better right to the property.

Q: In the scenario above (third person purchased the property and transferred title to his name), can I ask the Register of Deeds void the new title?

A: No. You will need to enforce your right/s through the courts.

Q: How long is a notice of adverse claim valid for?

A: Thirty days. But, since it is not automatically cancelled, the legal effect is maintained as long as it has not yet been cancelled.

Q: What if it is the reverse? i.e. someone annotates an adverse claim on my title?

A: After thirty days, you will be allowed to ask the a court to order the removal of the adverse claim.

Q: If the register of deeds does not agree with the ‘adverse claim’, can he refuse to annotate?

A: No. The register of deeds exercises no discretion in this matter. As long as the requirements for a notice of adverse claim are met, the register of deeds must annotate the adverse claim.

Q: Is a notice of adverse claim the same as a notice of lis pendens?

A: No. A notice of lis pendens is a notice that there is a pending case involving the property.

Q: What are the requirements for a notice of adverse claim?

A: The adverse claim must state in writing:

i. the right or interest, and how it was acquired; ii. the description of the property; iii. the certificate of title number

The statement must be signed and sworn to before a notary public or other officer authorized to administer oath; and

The claimant should state his residence or the place to which all notices may be served upon him.

Q: If my right to a property is not as a buyer but as an heir, may I also register an adverse claim?

A: Yes. In general, if you believe you have a right to a property, you can opt to have a notice of adverse claim annotated. However, note that a notice of adverse claim is limited to a validity period of only thirty days. After the thirty day period, the removal is not automatic but a court may be petitioned to order the removal. It is always best to actively protect your rights and interest. The best protection is still to have the title in already in your name.