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REAL ESTATE 46: The MRTA applies to claimants with an unbroken chain of title of record.

This case involves action for quiet title to a 10-foot strip of land on a Lake.

In 2014, appellees brought an action against plaintiffs and the owners of Lot 55, which adjoins the western side of the 10-foot strip. Those appellees sought to keep plaintiffs and the owners of Lot 55 from constructing docks on their property that would interfere with appellees’ usage of a dock constructed on the 10-foot strip.

The appellees contended, based upon an even earlier civil case from 1980, and based upon their predecessors in interest, that they had riparian rights connected to the 10-foot strip.

The trial court disagreed, dismissed appellees’ complaint, and ultimately sanctioned appellees for making subsequent claims regarding adverse possession and a prescriptive easement that the trial court found to be frivolous.

Notably, because appellees’ ownership interest in the 10-foot strip arises from quitclaim deeds that were executed during the pendency of the prior appeal, appellees did not claim any ownership interest in the 10-foot strip at the time.

Consequently, the trial court determined that it was plaintiffs that lacked standing in the case. The court further concluded that, by providing the quitclaim deeds with their motion for summary disposition, appellees had provided prima facie evidence of their interest in the 10-foot strip; therefore, they had standing. The court then granted appellees’ motion for summary disposition and dismissed plaintiffs’ complaint.

Even viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, the deeds make it clear that neither plaintiffs nor their predecessors ever had an ownership interest in the western 10 feet of Lot 56.

As discussed, plaintiffs’ claim to the western 10 feet of Lot 56 contravenes the explicit language of their deed. The documentary evidence clearly establishes that plaintiffs purchased the eastern 40 feet of Lot 56 in 2013 and nothing else.

The MRTA applies to claimants with an unbroken chain of title of record to any interest in land for 20 years for mineral interests and 40 years for other interests.

A person has an unbroken chain of title in land if the official public records evidence either:

(a) A conveyance or other title transaction not less than 20 years in the past for mineral interests and 40 years for other interests, which conveyance or other title transaction purports to create the interest in that person, with nothing appearing of record purporting to divest that person of the purported interest.

(b) A conveyance or other title transaction not less than 20 years in the past for mineral interests and 40 years for other interests, which conveyance or other title transaction purports to create the interest in some other person and other conveyances or title transactions of record by which the purported interest has become vested in the person first referred to in this section, with nothing appearing of record purporting to divest the person first referred to in this section of the purported interest. [MCL 565.102(1)(a) and (1)(b).]

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