This article is written for Michigan land owners. In particular, I will be discussing a few of the instruments that are used to convey an interest in your land, as well as the actual interest these instruments convey. I feel that a basic understanding of these instruments can be of great assistance to the land owner with an otherwise layman’s understanding of property laws. This writing will touch on three such instruments: 1) the deeds; 2) the easement; and 3) the mortgage.

The Deeds

In the world of deeds, there are two main players: 1) the warranty deed, and 2) the quit claim deed.

The warranty deed is generally used to convey ownership of land. The warranty deed tells the purchaser that the seller owns the land, in fee simple, and that the seller is now conveying such fee simple interest to the buyer.

The quit claim deed is generally used to convey whatever interest the grantor has in the land. In other words, the quit claim deed makes no representation as to the legal interest of the grantor. The quit claim deed simply conveys to the grantee whatever interest the grantor holds. A common use of the quit claim deed is to clean up stray interests, or to convey interests from one owner to another.

When you purchased your land, you likely received a warranty deed from the seller. This deed acted as a promise from the seller that you were receiving actual ownership of the land.

The Easement

An easement may be defined as the right to use the land of another for a specific purpose. This right will usually not permit the easement holder to occupy or control the easement area. In other words, the easement holder cannot build on the easement area, or use the easement area in excess of its intention.

Easements are commonly obtained for : 1) access, and 2) utilities.

An owner of Parcel A may have to cross Parcel B to get to a main road. In order to accomplish this, the owner of Parcel A will request that the owner of Parcel B grant an “access easement” across the land of Parcel B. The owner of Parcel A will then have the right to cross this easement in accessing the main road. Remember, the owner of Parcel A will not be able to occupy of control this easement area, other than that stated in the easement agreement itself.

In our example, Parcel A is considered the dominant tenement, as the easement is for the benefit of Parcel A. Conversely, Parcel B is considered the servient tenement, as the easement burdens Parcel B.

The Mortgage

A mortgage is a grant of land to a lender, from the owner, for the purpose of securing the loan to the owner’s land. The mortgage is an instrument of security. Such mortgage will remain secured to the land until such time as it is paid off. And, of course, this loan may be foreclosed, by authority of the mortgage, should the owner become sufficiently delinquent on its payment schedule.

The land owner granting the mortgage is referred to as the mortgagor. The lender receiving the mortgage is referred to as the mortgagee.

In Michigan, the mortgage conveys a security interest only. This security interest may only ripen into a fee simple interest through the process of foreclosure.

Conclusion

All of the above material pertains to conveyances of an interest in land. An owner of land is conveying some interest to another. The instrument used will declare the legal interest actually conveyed. And, of course, any conveyance of an interest in land must be in writing, and preferably recorded; all designed to satisfy the statute of frauds.

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