The tort of slander of title, codified under the Colorado Code, takes on many forms. It can be similar to libel in that it someone defames property that leads to some sort of damage. In addition to basic libel, the tort of slander of title includes various claims against a property that are untrue. These claims can range from improper representation of ownership to other claims, which will be discussed in this article. Damages are generally pecuniary in nature and is evaluated based on damaged suffered, though it is sometimes difficult to assess.
Elements of Slander of Property
To properly prove the tort of slander of title, the plaintiff must demonstrate the following elements:
- The defendant published a statement about the plaintiff’s property;
- Such statement was untrue; and
- The defendant knew or should have known that such statement was untrue;
- Damages to the property.
Lowering Property Values
Suppose a seller puts his house up for sale because the seller is having difficulty with some of the neighbors. Prospective buyers come to view the property and make inquiries with the neighbors about the house. Some of the neighbors tell prospective buyers about several problems with the house or property that are false because they want to hurt the seller. This causes potential buyers to not bid or make low bids on the house. Eventually, the seller feels compelled to sell the house at a significantly lower price than the asking price. Upon discovery that the neighbors disparaged the house and caused him damage, the seller can sue those who made untrue comments under the tort of slander of title. The damages would be assessed based on the depreciation of the house value.
False Representation of Ownership
If a person files a deed that he owns a certain property that he really does not own, then the real property owner can sue the person filing a false deed for the tort of slander of title. The deed filing would be removed though damages may only be nominal.
Suppose a homeowner hires a contractor to perform home remodeling on the homeowner’s house. They sign a contract that states that the contractor must provide service that is equal or better than the industry and local standard for such type of work. The contractor does sub-standard work. Due to the poor remodeling job, the homeowner refuses to pay the contractor. Upset about doing work without pay, the contractor obtains a mechanic’s lien against the homeowner’s property for non-payment of services. The homeowner, to counter the mechanic’s lien, can sue the contractor for slander of title for improperly placing a mechanic’s lien against the house when the contractor did not live up to his side of the bargain. If successful, the mechanic’s lien would be removed.
Are you active in complex real estate transactions in Colorado? You need an attorney who knows the law and knows the market. For questions about slander of title or other real estate legal needs in Colorado, contact the Law Offices of Eric L. Nesbitt, P.C. at 303-741-2354 or Info@NesbittLawOffices.com.