Mistakes in the Description

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Mistakes in the Description


 Occasionally courts will take judicial notice of extrinsic facts that will correct a description.  In the case of Chestang v. Bower, 224 Ala. 469, 140 So. 537 (1932), the Alabama Supreme Court corrected a description that erroneously placed a tract in range 1 “west.”  The intention of the parties was that the land lie in range 1 “east.”  The description stated that part of the land lay along the Mobile River.  The court judicial notice that the Mobile River did not touch any part of range 1 “west.”

 Frequently deeds will describe land and also recite the number of acres allegedly comprised by the description.  If the actual acreage of the described land conflicts with the recited acreage, the description is nevertheless valid.  The recited acreage is simply dismissed as surplusage whether or not the actual acreage of the described land is more or less than the erroneous recitation of acreage. Jordan v. Tinnin, 342 So.2d 748 (Ala. 1977).

 Some oversights simply cannot be corrected.  If a form deed has blanks for the lines, courses, and boundaries, there will be such a vagueness and uncertainty that the deed is void. Louisville & Northeastern R.R. v. Boykin, 76 Ala. 560 (1884).

 A governmental description that omits both the township and the range is difficult to repair.  For instance, in Calvert v. J.M. Steverson & Sons Lumber Co., 244 Ala. 206, 12 So.2d 365 (1943), the Alabama Supreme Court took judicial notice that there was more than one Section 34 in Blount County, Alabama.  The deed in that case had failed to recite a township and range for the description.  The deed was held void for uncertainty.

 In Alabama, where the county is omitted from the deed description, but the property could lie only in one county in the state, the Alabama Supreme Court will take judicial notice of that fact and uphold such a description. Webb v. Mullins, 78 Ala. 111 (1884).

 The Alabama Supreme Court has upheld a description that recited the township and range of the property, but failed to state a county or meridian. Chambers v. Ringstaff, 69 Ala. 140 (1881). The court took judicial notice that there was only one township and range in Alabama consistent with the deed description.  Based upon that judicial notice, the court found the deed description to be certain.

 A fatal omission occurs when the deed description attempts to describe a certain number of “acres” in a tract, but does not specify where those acres are located. Carling v. Wilson, 177 Ala. 85, 58 So. 417 (1912); Martin v. Carroll, 235 Ala. 30, 177 So. 144 (1937).

Copyright 2011 by Edward G, Hawkins. All rights reserved.