Slander of title occurs when an individual publishes a false statement that disparages another person’s real property, or title to property, causing a financial loss to that individual due to the negative impact on the property’s value. This can be caused, for example, when a homeowner’s association improperly records a lien on an individual’s home, prohibiting the individual from renting or selling the property.
How can you pursue a claim for Slander of Title?
To have a valid Slander of Title claim in Florida, the plaintiff must allege the following:
- The defendant communicated the statements to a third person;
- The statement(s) is disparaging to the plaintiff’s title;
- The statement(s) is untrue;
- The defendant’s communication caused the plaintiff to suffer actual damages.
Pleading actual damages is crucial to a valid slander of title claim. Punitive damages are also available for these types of claims. Actual damages have to be financial losses that are the immediate and direct result of the false statements on the conduct of third parties. These damages can also include the cost or expenses incurred by the individual who owns the property in trying to fix the negative effects on the property, such as attorney’s fees.
Punitive damages can also be available if the plaintiff proves that the defendant acted with malice, and intentionally made the disparaging statements to harm the plaintiff’s property. To illustrate, in the example of the association mistakenly placing a lien on an individual’s home, the association can be found to act with malice, or ill intent, if they refuse to help fix the error of the lien while knowing that it should not be placed on the property.
What defenses are available if you are charged with Slander of Title?
On the other hand, if you yourself are charged with slander of title, there are defenses available to you. Initially, if the statement published was an opinion, even though it was false, a claim of slander of title will not prevail.
The most prominent defense to slander of title is good faith. For example, if an association in good faith relies on statements and numbers in placing the lien, they can assert the good faith defense when faced with this type of lawsuit. Regardless, it is crucial that an association triple checks their numbers when placing liens to avoid these types of claims.
EPGD Business Law is located in beautiful Coral Gables, West Palm Beach and historic Washington D.C. Call us at (786) 837-6787, or contact us through the website to schedule a consultation.
*Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*