In Carloss v. County of Alameda, the County of Alameda seized and sold residential property that was in default in payment of the property taxes. The sales proceeds exceeded the amount of the taxes. Under California Revenue and Taxation Code section 4675, a “person with title of record” to the property (or that person’s successor) can claim those excess sale proceeds from the County. The plaintiff, Jerome Carloss, filed a claim for the proceeds, which the County denied. Mr. Carloss then filed an action in Alameda County Superior Court. The Court ruled that his claim to the proceeds failed because he did not produce a recorded grant deed showing him as the person with title of record. Mr. Carloss then appealed the Court’s ruling.
The court of appeal reversed, holding that the statute refers to “any person with title of record,” and while a recorded grant deed might be the best evidence, it was not the only form of evidence allowed by the statute. If the grant deed cannot be produced, then the party claiming the proceeds may bring forward other evidence to establish that he holds title of record, including other recorded instruments, the assessor’s records, and oral testimony.
One should be able to extend the reasoning of this decision to other disputes involving proving the holder of title. So long as the statute does not expressly require a grant deed, then one claiming title should be allowed to us other evidence to establish his or her claim.
Mark V. Isola