Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) Section 872.220 - Partition Title Report

The California Partition Law begins at Code of Civil Procedure section 872.010 and ends at Code of Civil Procedure section 874.323. Section 872.220 requires that the plaintiff state the existence and location of a title report if they have procured one. A title report includes a preliminary report, guarantee, binder, or policy of title insurance. (CCP § 872.010 subd. (e).)

Code of Civil Procedure section 872.220 states

If it is necessary to have a title report:

  • The plaintiff may, prior to commencing the action, procure a title report and shall in the complaint indicate he has done so and designate a place where it will be kept for inspection, use, and copying by the parties.
  • The court may, upon application of a party, authorize him to procure a title report and shall designate a place where it shall be kept for inspection, use, and copying by the parties. The court may, in all cases, order allowance, accounting, contribution, or other compensatory adjustment among the parties according to the principles of equity.

(Amended by Stats. 1976, c. 73, p. 110, § 6.)

What Is an Example?

“Sarah” and “John” inherited a large piece of vacant land from their late grandfather in Humboldt, California. However, they had differing views on how to utilize the property. Sarah wanted to sell the land, while John wanted to build a single-family home. Unable to reach an agreement, Sarah sought a partition and sale of the property. Before commencing the partition action, Sarah obtained a title report, that showed her deceased grandfather as the owner of the property which was needed to transfer ownership to her and John as beneficiaries of their grandfather’s trust.

As required by Code of Civil Procedure section 872.220, Sarah ensured that the report was accessible to John. Sarah designated that the title report would be kept at her counsel's office in for use and copying. During the proceedings, John also requested authorization from the court to obtain a separate title insurance report. The court granted his request and designated that the title insurance report would be kept at his counsel’s office for Sarah to copy if needed. As the partition action progressed, the court recognized the need for various adjustments.

For instance, Sara had incurred expenses related to conducting a survey of the property boundaries and resolving boundary disputes. The court, in accordance with the provision in section 872.220, ordered an allowance for these expenses and ensured that the relevant documents regarding these adjustments were made available for inspection and use by both parties. Ultimately, the court determined that a sale of the property was the most appropriate resolution.

Law Revision Commission Comments (CCP § 872.220)

1976 Addition

Section 872.220 is derived from former Section 799. For a definition of "title report," see Section 872.020 (f). Provisions relating to the title report formerly found in Section 800 are omitted as outmoded and inappropriate under modern conditions. For allowance of cost of procuring the title report, see Section 874.0l0.

Assembly Committee Comments

Section 872.220 is yet another example of a statute without an “official” comment from the Assembly Committee. But this is due in large part to the Legislature’s overall adoption of the Law Revision Commission’s suggestions when the law of partitions was changed in 1976. The introduction to Assembly Bill 1671 (which ushered in this statute among others) states that the Revision Commission’s recommendations “reflect the intent of the Assembly Committee… in approving the various provisions of Assembly Bill 1671.”

In addition, the lack of comment may also be because Section 872.220 is a relatively simple statute on its face. In practice, it allows for plaintiffs in partition actions to attach title reports to the complaint so that the court and defendant may verify the allegations.

As to what constitutes a title report, Section 872.010 states that it “includes a preliminary report, guarantee, binder, or policy of title insurance.” Usually, though, title reports are straightforward documents. They will contain the results of a title search on the subject property, a legal description of the land, and a list of any easements, liens, or encumbrances affecting the property.

Because of their usefulness, litigants are likely to see title reports in essentially every partition action. Moreover, they’re relatively inexpensive to obtain. And even if they were more costly, any expenses spent on acquiring a title report is actually recoverable in partition actions.

This is because Section 874.010 lists “the reasonable costs of a title report procured pursuant to Section 872.220 with interest thereon at the legal rate from the time of payment” as a “cost of partition.” And in partition actions, an award of costs and fees should be proportionately divided based on the parties’ ownership interest in the property. (Finey v. Gomez (2003) 111 Cal.App.4th 527, 545-546.)

As such, even if a plaintiff pays for report out of their own pocket, the other parties will ultimately be responsible for covering their proportionate share of that cost at the end of the lawsuit.

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