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Glossary

 A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y -


- A -

Abandonment:  The surrender, relinquishing or disclaiming of property or rights to property.

Abstract:  An abridgement; a lesser quantity or summary containing the essence of an original, greater source.  See also Abstract Listing.

Abstract Listing:  List of all properties having unpaid, delinquent taxes.  Prepared by the tax collector and certified by the county auditor, it is the official record of tax status for all years.

Abstract of Judgment:  A summary of the essential provisions of a court judgment which, when recorded in the county recorder's office, creates a lien upon the defendant's property in that county, both presently owned or afterward acquired.

Abstract System:  A system consolidating into a single record or file pertinent information relating to all properties having delinquent assessments or taxes due and providing fiscal accountability.  Gives an official history and record of each delinquent parcel and any tax liens against it.

Abutting:  Touching or bordering on or contiguous to.

Abutting Owner:  One whose land is contiguous to (abuts) a public right of way.

Access Right:  A landowner's right to have ingress to and egress from his/her property over adjoining property to a public street; also called right-of-way.

Accession:  Addition to property by natural increase or growth or, artificially, by installation of improvements.

Acknowledgment:  A written declaration by a person executing an instrument, given before an officer authorized to give an oath (usually a notary public), stating that such execution is his/her act and deed.

Acquisition:  The act or process by which a person procures property.

Acre:  A measure of land equal to 160 square rods (43,560 sq. ft.) or a tract about 208.71 feet square, of any shape.

Acreage:  Any parcel of land which may be measured in terms of acres.

Action:  A suit brought in a court; a formal complaint within the jurisdiction of a court of law.

Actual Notice:  Notice a party receives in fact or in reality, as compared with constructive notice (implied or inferred).

Ad Valorem:  A Latin phrase meaning "according to value," usually used in connection with real property taxation.

Addenda:  Supplement -- addition to the delinquent list of those properties that were, by operation of law, validly declared to be in default in previous years but were inadvertently omitted from previous published delinquent lists.

Administrator:  A person appointed by the probate court to administer the estate of a deceased person who died intestate. (Administratrix: a woman administrator.)

Adverse Possession:  Method of acquisition of property in denial or opposition to the title of another claimant that involves open and continuous use of the property for a period of at least five years and payment of taxes affirmation.

Affidavit:  A written statement or declaration sworn to or affirmed before some officer who has authority to administer an oath or affirmation.

Affirm:  To confirm, aver, ratify, verify; to make a declaration that an affidavit or other document or testimony is true.

Agreement:  Chapter 8 procedure for selling tax-defaulted property to taxing agencies, revenue districts, redevelopment agencies, and non-profit organizations.  See also Chapter 8.

Agreement of Sale:  Chapter 8 procedure for selling tax-defaulted property to taxing agencies, revenue districts, redevelopment agencies, and non-profit organizations. See also Chapter 8.

Alienation: The absolute transferring or conveying of property to another; the transfer of property and possession of lands, or other things, from one person to another by willful act, as opposed to operation of law.

Allotment:  A share or portion; a division of property previously held in common among those legally entitled; specific property set apart to a distinct party.

Amortization:  The liquidation of a financial obligation on an installment basis; also, recovery of cost or value over a period of time.

Annexation:  Addition to property by adding or attaching other property (e.g., fixtures) to it.  Also, addition of a county's unincorporated territory to a city or town.

Apportion:  To divide and distribute proportionally.

Appraisal:  An estimate of the value of property resulting from an analysis of facts about the property; an opinion of value.

Appraiser:  One qualified by education, training and experience who is hired to estimate the value of real and personal property based on experience, judgment, facts, and use of formal appraisal processes.

Appurtenance:  Something annexed to another thing that may be transferred incidental to it. That which belongs to or is lesser than another thing, such as a barn, dwelling, garage, or orchard is incidental to the land to which it is attached.

Assess:  To make a valuation and appraisal of property in connection with listing property liable to taxation. It implies the exercise of discretion on the part of officials charged with the duty of assessing, including the listing or inventory of the property involved and placing a value thereon.  "Assess" is often used interchangeably with "levy."

Assessed Valuation:  A valuation placed upon property by a public authority as a basis for levying taxes on the property.

Assessee:  The person to whom the property is assessed.

Assessment:  The valuation of property for the purpose of levying a tax; or, the amount of the tax levied.

Assessment Roll:  In the case of real property, the official list containing the legal description of each parcel of property and its assessed valuation. The name and address of the last known owner are also usually shown.  In the case of personal property, the assessment roll is the official list containing the name and address of the owner, a description of the personal property, and its assessed value.

Assessment Year:  The period beginning with a lien date and ending immediately prior to the succeeding lien date for taxes levied by the same agency.  January 1 through the succeeding last day of December.

Assessor:  The county official who has the responsibility of determining assessed values for property taxes.

Assignment:  A transfer to another of any property in possession or in action, or of any estate or right therein. A transfer by a person of that person's rights under a contract.

Attachment:  The process by which real or personal property of a party to a lawsuit is seized and retained in the custody of the court for the purpose of acquiring jurisdiction over the property, to compel an appearance before the court or to furnish security for a debt or costs arising out of the litigation.

Audit:  A systematic examination of records or accounts to check their accuracy.

Automatic Data Processing (ADP):  See Electronic Data Processing (EDP).

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Back Taxes:  All payments required to be made under any provisions of law allowing payment of delinquent taxes in installments, except payments of current taxes due on the property and the penalties and costs on the current taxes.

Bankruptcy:  A federal proceeding in U.S. district court wherein assets of a debtor unable or unwilling to pay his/her debts are applied by an officer of the court in satisfaction of creditor claims.  The automatic stay provisions of sections 362 and 363 of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 prohibit the sale of the property.

Base and Meridian:  Imaginary lines used by surveyors to find and describe the location of private or public lands. In government surveys, a base line runs due east and west, a meridian runs due north and south. These lines are used to establish township boundaries.

Bench Mark:  Location indicated on a durable marker by a land surveyor.

Biannual:  Happening twice each year; semi-annual.

Biennial:  An event that occurs once every two years.

Board:  An official body organized to perform managerial or administrative functions; e.g., the county board of supervisors.  The "State Board" refers to the State Board of Equalization.

Bona Fide Purchaser:  In good faith, without fraud; also, without notice of any adverse claim, defect in title, or right of third parties.

Building:  A structure enclosing a space within its walls, usually covered with a roof, and designed for habitation, shelter, storage, or business.

Bundle of Rights:  All of the legal rights incident to ownership of property, including rights of use, possession, encumbering and disposition.

Bureau of Land Management:  A federal bureau within the Department of the Interior that manages and controls certain lands owned by the United States.

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Case Law:  Jurisprudence established by court decisions, in distinction to statutes and other sources of law.

Cancel:  To annul or invalidate; e.g., cancellation of notice of power to sell tax-defaulted property.

CC&Rs:  Abbreviation for "covenants, conditions and restrictions."  The basic rules establishing the rights and obligations of owners of real property (and their successors in interest) within a subdivision or other tract of land in relation to other owners within the same subdivision or tract or in relation to an association of owners organized for the purpose of operating and maintaining property commonly owned by the individual owners.

Certificate:  The certificate that is issued by the State Controller upon approval of the claim submitted to postpone the property taxes of the claimant.

Certificate of Eligibility:  The certificate that is issued by the State Controller upon approval of the claim submitted to postpone the property taxes of the claimant.

Certificate of Sale:  Certificate issued to the buyer at a judicial sale (tax sale) that entitles the buyer to a deed upon confirmation of the sale by the court or if the property is not redeemed within a specified time.

Certificate of Taxes Due:  A written statement or guaranty of the condition of the taxes on a certain property made by the treasurer of the county wherein the property is located.

Certified Copy:  A true copy, attested to be true by the officer holding the original.

Certified Mail:  A form of mail similar to registered mail, by which the sender may require a return receipt from the addressee. Certified mail should be less expensive than registered mail.

Chain of Title:  A history of conveyances and encumbrances affecting the title, from the time the original patent was granted or as far back as records are available, used to determine how title came to be vested in the current owner.

Chapter 8, Chapter 8 Agreement:  Refers to Chapter 8 of Part 6 of Division 1 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. Generally, the acquisition by a public agency, the county or the State, through agreement with the county board of supervisors, of tax-defaulted property that is subject to the tax collector's power to sell.

Cloud on Title:  A claim, encumbrance or condition that impairs the title to real property until disproved or eliminated through, for example, a quitclaim deed or a quiet title legal action.

Community Property:  Property acquired by husband and or wife during a marriage when not acquired as the separate property of either spouse.  Each spouse has equal rights of management, alienation and testamentary disposition of community property.

Conclusive Evidence:  That which is incontrovertible, either because the law does not permit it to be contradicted or because it is so strong and convincing as to overbear all proof to the contrary and establish the proposition in question beyond any reasonable doubt.

Condemnation:  The act of taking private property for public use by a political subdivision upon paying the owner just compensation; the declaration that a structure is unfit for use.

Condominium:  A system of individual fee ownership of units in a multi-family structure, combined with joint ownership of common areas of the structure and the land (sometimes called a "vertical subdivision").

Conformed Copy:  An exact copy of a document on which has been written explanations of things that could not or were not copied; e.g., recording date, recorder’s series number, and document book and page.

Consideration:  Anything of value given or promised by a party to induce another to enter into a contract; e.g., personal services or even love and affection.  It may be a benefit conferred upon one party or a detriment suffered by the other.

Constructive Notice:  Notice given by public records. The individual concerned need not be actually provided notice since, legally, knowledge is implied based upon notoriety of the public record.

Contiguous:  Sharing an edge or boundary; neighboring, adjacent, adjoining.

Contract:  An agreement, either written or oral, to do or not do certain things.  In real estate, a contract must have five essential elements:  competent parties, valuable consideration, offer and acceptance, lawful object, and written and signed.

Convey:  To transfer title to property from one person to another.

Conveyance:  An instrument in writing used to transfer (convey) title to property from one person to another, such as a deed or a trust deed; the process of transferring title to property from one person to another.

Conveyance of Real Estate:  A Conveyance of Real Estate Sold for Nonpayment of Property Taxes for Fiscal Year 20__ - 20__.  This conveyance transferred fee defeasible title to the State of California and would be defeated by either a full redemption or a sale by public auction, sealed bid or agreement. Upon redemption, a Release of Equity would be recorded to release the State’s interest.  In the event of a sale, a Tax Deed to the Purchaser would be recorded.

Cooperative Apartment:  A form of apartment ownership; ownership of shares in a cooperative venture that entitles the owner to use, rent, or sell a specific apartment unit.  The corporation usually reserves the right to approve certain actions such as a sale or improvement.

Corporation:  A group or body of persons established and treated by law as an individual or unit with rights and liabilities distinct and apart from those of the persons composing it.  A corporation is a entity of law having certain powers and duties of a natural person.  Being created by law, it may continue for any length of time the law prescribes.

Corporeal:  Having an objective, material existence.

Corporeal Rights:  Possessory rights in real property.

Corrected Deed:  A deed issued when the original deed or notice contained a clerical error or misstatement of fact.  There is no time limit for issuance of such a deed.

Cost Charge:  An amount attaching to secured taxes for preparing delinquent records and giving notice of delinquency.  It is either collected when tax-delinquent or tax-defaulted property is redeemed or is distributed from proceeds of a tax sale.

County Board:  The county board of supervisors.  Often, this term means such body when sitting as the county board of equalization.

Covenant:  An agreement written into a deed or other instrument promising certain performance or nonperformance of certain acts or stipulating certain uses or non-uses of the property.

Current Special Assessments:  Special Assessments levied and becoming due within one year.

Current Taxes:  Special Assessments levied and becoming due within one year.

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Data Processing:  Usually refers to the methods by which an office handles its workload of records and reports.  A "data processing department" is a separate office or subdivision of an organization established to function as part of a record-processing system, often utilizing electronic computers and providing technological expertise. See also Electronic Data Processing (EDP).

Declaration of Default, Time of:  On or before June 30, at the time fixed in the publication of the notice of impending default, when the unpaid taxes, assessments, penalties and costs on real property (except property that is already tax-defaulted or is a possessory interest) are declared by the tax collector to be in default.

Dedication:  An appropriation of land by its owner to a public use and the acceptance for such use by authorized officials on behalf of the public.

Deed:  A written instrument that, when properly executed and delivered, conveys title to real property from one person or entity (grantor) to another (grantee).

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure:  A deed to real property accepted by a lender from a defaulting borrower to avoid the necessity of foreclosure proceedings by the lender.

Deed of Trust:  A legal document by which a borrower pledges certain real property as a guarantee for the repayment of a loan.  A deed of trust differs from a mortgage in some important respects.  For example, instead of two parties to the transaction, there are three:  1) the borrower, or trustor, who signs the trust deed; 2) the third or neutral party, the trustee, to whom the trustor deeds the property as security for payment of the debt; and 3) the lender, or beneficiary, who benefits from the pledge agreement. In the event of a default, the trustee can sell the property and transfer the money thus obtained to the lender as payment of the debt. See also Trust Deed.

Deed Restrictions:  Limitations in the deed to a property that dictate certain uses or prohibit certain uses of the property.

Deed to Purchaser:  A conveyance drawn by the tax collector to the buyer of tax-defaulted property via public auction, sealed bid sale, or Chapter 8 agreement.

Deed to the State:  A conveyance of real property to the State Controller, performed by the tax collector after five or more years of such property remaining sold to the state for delinquent taxes.  This procedure was designed to protect the State's interest in its chief source of revenue at the time, and deeds to the State for delinquent property taxes were first issued in 1872.  With only minor changes, this method of tax enforcement was used from 1895 to 1984.  However, as of 1984, tax-defaulted real property is no longer deeded to the State; instead, it is sold by the county via public auction, sealed bid, or agreement sale.

Default:  Failure to fulfill a duty or promise or to discharge an obligation; omission or failure to perform any act; e.g., not paying current property taxes.  See also Declaration of Default.

Default Number:  The control number assigned to a property after the first-year taxes are not paid and the property is declared to be in default.

Defeasance:  A deed, made collaterally with a conveyancing deed, which imposes conditions which, if met, will defeat the conveyance.

Defeasible Title:  A title which may be annulled or voided at a later date by performance of a specified act or by a conditional limitation.

Delinquent List:  A list published annually, on or before September 8, of all real property declared to be in default by the tax collector in a particular year, except those properties that have been redeemed or canceled subsequent to the declaration of default; also referred to as the "Published Delinquent List."

Delinquent Taxes:  Taxes remaining unpaid on and after the date on which a penalty for nonpayment is attached.  Even though the penalty may be subsequently waived and a portion of the taxes may be abated or canceled, the unpaid balances continue to be delinquent taxes until abated, canceled, paid, or converted into tax liens.

Deposition:  Written testimony taken under oath.

Detailed List:  A list of properties that have been tax-defaulted for five or more years and have become subject to a notice of power to sell tax-defaulted property.  The list, referred to as the published notice of power to sell tax-defaulted property, is published before June 8.

Devise:  A gift or disposal of real property by last will and testament.

Devisee:  One who receives a gift of real property by will.

Distribution of Proceeds:  The required distribution of money received from the sale of property in satisfaction of legal claims.

District Attorney:  Includes county counsel, city attorney or legal advisor.

Divest:  To take away; the opposite of vest or invest.

Documentary Transfer Tax:  By state law a county may adopt a documentary transfer tax to apply to all transfers of real property located in the county.  Notice of payment is entered on the face of the deed or on a separate paper filed with the deed.

Documents:  Legal instruments which may be used as evidence in a legal proceeding; e.g.,tax bills, rescissions of power to sell, mortgages, contracts, deeds, options, wills, and bills of sale.

Dominant Tenement:  The parcel of land that benefits from an easement over the servient parcel (tenement).

Due Process (of Law):  A proceeding wherein a person is served with notice, actual or constructive, and has an opportunity to enforce and protect his/her rights before a court or properly constituted tribunal. The process must safeguard against depriving one's liberty and property rights, guaranteed by the 5th and 14th Amendments of the United States Constitution.

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Easement:  A right, privilege, or interest that one (private or public) has in the land of another, created by grant, reservation, agreement, prescription, or necessary implication. It is either for the benefit of land (appurtenant), such as a right to cross A to get to B, or "in gross," such as a public utility easement.

Easement, Appurtenant:  An easement for the benefit of another parcel of land, such as the right to cross parcel A to reach B.  The easement will pass with the transfer of property to a new owner.  See also Dominant Tenement.

Easement by Prescription:  An easement of ingress and egress, based on the presumption that a written easement was given by the property owner (although no writing existed), after a period of open and continuous use of land.  A prescriptive easement may be "perfected" by recording.  See also Prescriptive Easement.

Easement in Gross:  An easement for the benefit of a person or company, rather than for the benefit of another parcel of land.  Commonly, easements are for public utilities.

Easement of Necessity:  An easement granted by a court when it is determined that the easement is absolutely necessary for the use and enjoyment of the land; commonly given to landlocked parcels.

Egress:  A term concerning a right to come and go across the land (public or private) of another. Usually part of the term "ingress and egress."

Electronic Data Processing (EDP):  Processing by means of high-speed electronic equipment.  See also Data Processing.

Emblements:  Growing crops.  Considered chattels that may be removed by a tenant at the expiration of the lease.

Eminent Domain:  The right of government to acquire private property for public use by condemnation and the payment of just compensation, as prescribed by the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution.  This right may be vested in the state or any of its political subdivisions, or in private persons or corporations authorized to exercise functions of public necessity.

Encroachment:  The building of a structure or the construction of any improvement that is partly or wholly on the property of another, such as a wall or a fence.

Encumbrance/Incumbrance:  A claim, lien, charge, or liability attached to and binding real property. Any right to, or interest in, land which may exist in one other than the owner, but which will not prevent the transfer of fee title.

Equalization:  To make equal, uniform; to constitute or induce equality. In property assessment, equalization is a procedure usually performed by the county board of supervisors to provide due process in valuation, either collectively or to individual applicants.

Equity:  The interest or value that an owner has in real estate over and above the liens against it; a branch of remedial justice by and through which relief is afforded to suitors in courts of equity.

Escheat:  The process by which unclaimed financial assets come under the custody of the State Controller’s Office when there are no known heirs or owners.  By law, most accounts become unclaimed when there is no owner contact with the institution or no account activity for three years.

Escrow:  The deposit of instruments and/or funds with instructions with a third neutral party to carry out the provisions of an agreement or contract.

Estimate:  The deposit of instruments and/or funds with instructions with a third neutral party to carry out the provisions of an agreement or contract.

Estoppel:  A legal theory under which a person is barred from asserting or denying a fact or right that is inconsistent with a previous position or representation.

Et al.:  An abbreviation of the Latin term "et alibi," meaning "and others."

Ex Parte:  A judicial proceeding for the benefit of one party only.

Excess Proceeds:  The amount of monies remaining from a sale of tax-defaulted property after the taxes, penalties and costs have been paid and all precedent liens and judgments satisfied.

Execute:  To complete, make, perform, or do, as in to “execute a contract.”  To execute a deed is to create a deed, including signing, sealing, and delivering it.  To execute a contract is to complete the contract.

Executor:  A man/woman named in a will to carry out its provisions as to the disposition of the estate of a deceased person.

Executory Contract:  A contract in which something remains to be done by one or both of the parties.

Exemption:  Freed from an obligation or duty required by others.  In California, types of property exempt from property tax include those listed in Article XIII, section 3, of the California State Constitution and types of personal property exempted by the Legislature, such as those listed in sections 201.2 through 234 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.

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F.A.A.:  Federal Aviation Administration.

Facsimile:  An exact copy or reproduction, as of a document or signature.

Fair Market Value:  The amount of money that would be paid for a property offered on the open market for a reasonable period of time with both buyer and seller knowing all the uses to which the property could be put and with neither party being under pressure to buy or sell.

FDIC:  Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the agency of the federal government that insures deposits at banks and other qualifying savings institutions.

Federal Tax Lien:  A lien attaching to property for nonpayment of a federal tax (estate, income, etc.).  A federal tax lien differs from other liens in that it is not automatically wiped out by a foreclosure on a mortgage or trust deed recorded before the tax lien (except by judicial foreclosure).  See IRS Lien.

Fee:  An estate of inheritance in real property.

Fee Simple:  See Fee Simple Estate.

Fee Simple Defeasible:  An estate in fee subject to the occurrence of a condition subsequent whereby the estate may be terminated.

Fee Simple Estate:  The greatest interest that one can have in real property.  An estate that is unqualified, of indefinite duration, freely transferable, and inheritable.

Feuds:  Grants of land.

Final Decree:  A decree completely deciding all pending matters before a court and obviating the need for further litigation.

Fiscal Year:  An accounting year, as distinguished from a calendar year or an assessment year (q.v.).  For property tax purposes, the fiscal year is July 1 through June 30.

Fixed Assets:  Long-term assets that are intended to continue to be held or used, such as land, buildings, improvements other than buildings, machinery, and equipment.

Fixtures:  Appurtenances to land or improvements that usually cannot be removed without agreement, because they become real property; e.g., plumbing fixtures and store fixtures built into a building.

Floating Home:  A floating structure designed to be used, or modified to be used, as a stationary waterborne residential dwelling, having no power of its own and dependent for utilities upon a continuous utility linkage to a source originating on shore and having a permanent continuous hookup to a shore-side sewage system.

Foreclosure:  A procedure whereby property pledged as security for a debt is sold to satisfy the debt in the event of default.  Foreclosure extinguishes all rights and interests in the title of the owner(s) of property.

Foreclosure Sale:  A procedure whereby property pledged as security for a debt is sold to satisfy the debt in the event of default.  Foreclosure extinguishes all rights and interests in the title of the owner(s) of property.

Forfeiture:  Loss of money or anything of value, due to failure to perform.

Fraud:  The intentional and successful employment of any cunning, deception, collusion, or artifice to circumvent, cheat or deceive another person, whereby that person acts upon it to the loss of property and to legal injury.  (Actual fraud is a deliberate misrepresentation or representation made in reckless disregard of its truth or its falsity, the suppression of truth, a promise made without the intention to perform it, or any other act intended to deceive.)

Free and Clear:  Real property against which there are no liens, especially voluntary liens.

Freehold Estate:  An estate of indeterminable duration; e.g., fee simple or life estate.

Fructus Industriales:  Those things created by the labor (industry) of man rather than by nature alone; for example, a planted crop rather than an iron ore deposit. The designation is Important because fructus industriales are treated as personal property.  See also Emblements.

Fructus Naturales:  Produced by nature alone, such as trees not planted by man or minerals in the ground; considered real property.  See also Emblements.

FSLIC:  Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation.

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General Index (G.I.):  A title insurance company term for the books used to find liens against individuals that may affect real property but that are not recorded against the property being insured, such as liens against a buyer.

General Lien:  1) A lien such as a tax lien or a judgment lien, which attaches to all property of the debtor, rather than the lien of, for example, a trust deed, which attaches only to specific property.  2) The right of a creditor to hold personal property of a debtor for payment of a debt not associated with the property being held.  This type of general lien must be done under an agreement.

Gift Deed:  A deed for which the consideration is love and affection and where there is no material consideration.

Government Survey:  A method of specifying the location of parcels of land using prime meridians, base lines, standard parallels, guide meridians, townships and sections.

Grant:  A technical legal term in a deed of conveyance bestowing an interest in real property to another.  The words "convey" and "transfer" have the same effect.

Grant Deed:  A limited warranty deed using the word "grant" or like words, which assures a grantee that the grantor has not already conveyed the land to another and that the estate is free from encumbrances placed by the grantor.

Grantee:  A person to whom a grant is made; the purchaser.

Grantor:  A person who transfers his/her interest in property to another by grant; the seller of property.

Grantor-Grantee Index:  The record of the passing of title to all of the properties in a county, as kept by the county recorder's office. Property is checked by tracing the names of the sellers and buyers (chain of title). Title companies usually have more efficient methods because they keep records according to property description rather than people's names.

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Heir: One who by law, rather than by will, receives the estate of a deceased person.

Heirs and Assigns:  Words usually found in a deed that show the interest the grantee is receiving.  A deed to "A, his heirs and assigns," grants the property to A, with the right to assign it or to have it descend to A's heirs upon A's death.  This would be considered a fee interest (estate).  This differs from, for example, a life estate granted to A, which would terminate upon A's death and could not be inherited by A's heirs.

Hereditament:  Anything that could be considered real property; anything that may be inherited.

- I -

I.E.:  In other words; that is to say.  From the Latin id est.

Improved Land:  Land having either on-site improvements, off-site improvements, or both.

Improved Value:  An appraisal term encompassing the total value of land and improvements (man-made enhancements) rather than the separate values of each.

Improvements:  Defined in California law as including all buildings, structures, fixtures, and fences erected on or affixed to the land, together with all fruit, nut-bearing, or ornamental trees and vines not of natural growth and not exempt from taxation, except date palms under eight years of age.

Incompetent:  Defined in California law as including all buildings, structures, fixtures, and fences erected on or affixed to the land, together with all fruit, nut-bearing, or ornamental trees and vines not of natural growth and not exempt from taxation, except date palms under eight years of age.

Incorporeal Rights:  Non-possessory rights in real estate, arising out of ownership, such as rents.

Incumbrance/Encumbrance:  A claim, lien, charge, or liability attached to and binding real property.  Any right to or interest in land that may exist in someone other than the owner but will not prevent the transfer of fee title.

Indemnity Agreement:  An agreement by which one party agrees to repay another for any loss or damage the latter may suffer.

Indian Lands:  Real Property ceded to the U.S. by Indians, commonly to be held in trust for Indians.

Indorsement (also Endorsement):  The act of signing one's name on the back of a check or note, with or without further qualification.

Ingress:  A term concerning a right to come and go across the land (public or private) of another. Usually referred to as an "easement for ingress and egress."

Injunction:  A writ or order issued under the seal of a court to restrain one or more parties to a suit or proceeding from doing an act that is deemed to be inequitable or unjust in regard to the rights of some other party or parties in the suit or proceeding.

Input:  Data, information, etc., that is fed into a computer or other system.

Installment Plan of Redemption:  A plan enabling the taxpayer to pay defaulted taxes in installments over a period of five years. A plan must be initiated before five or more years have elapsed from the time of tax-default.

Instrument:  A written legal document created to effect the rights of the parties, giving formal expression to a legal act or agreement for the purpose of creating, modifying or terminating a right.

Interest:  1) A portion, share or right in something; partial, not complete ownership.  2) The charge in dollars for the use of money for a period of time.  Unless the law specifies otherwise, interest applicable to property taxation is simple (as opposed to compounded) interest.

Interest Rate:  1) A portion, share or right in something; partial, not complete ownership.  2) The charge in dollars for the use of money for a period of time.  Unless the law specifies otherwise, interest applicable to property taxation is simple (as opposed to compounded) interest.

Internal Control:  A plan of organization under which employees' duties are so arranged and records and procedures so designed as to make it possible to exercise effective accounting control over assets, liabilities, revenues, and expenditures.  Under such a system, the work of employees is subdivided so that no single employee performs a complete cycle of operations.  Thus, for example, an employee handling cash would not post the accounts receivable records.  Moreover, under such a system, the procedures to be followed are definitely laid down and require proper authorizations by designated officials for all actions to be taken.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS):  The federal agency responsible for administering and enforcing the internal revenue laws, except those relating to alcohol, tobacco, firearms, explosives and wagering.

Intestate:  A condition whereby a person dies without a will or with one that is defective in form; in either case, the estate descends to the heirs at law or the next of kin.

Involuntary Lien:  A lien imposed against property without consent of the owner. Taxes, special assessments, federal income tax liens, and State tax liens are examples of involuntary liens.

Irrevocable:  Incapable of being recalled or revoked; unchangeable.

Irrigation Districts:  Quasi-political districts created under special laws to provide water services to property owners in the districts.

IRS Lien:  An encumbrance placed against property, generally for unpaid federal income taxes.  See also Federal Tax Lien.

- J -

Joint Tenancy:  Undivided ownership of property by two or more persons, each of whom has an equal interest in the property, equal rights to use the property, and a right of survivorship; i.e., the right to share equally with other surviving joint tenants in the interest of a deceased joint tenant.

Joint Venture:  Two or more individuals or firms joining together on a single project as partners.

Judgment:  The final determination of a court of competent jurisdiction on a matter presented to it.  Money judgments provide for the payment of claims presented to the court or are awarded as damages.

Judgment Lien:  A legal claim on all of the property of a judgment debtor that enables the judgment creditor to have the property sold for payment of the amount of the judgment.

Jurisdiction:  The extent of the authority of a court or other governmental branch or agency.

- K -

(No entries for the letter "K".)

- L -

Land Grant:  A gift of public land by the federal government to a state or local government, a corporation, or an individual.

Lease:  A contract between owner and tenant setting forth the term of occupancy and the conditions under which the tenant may occupy and use the property.  Leasing is sometimes used as an alternative to purchasing property outright, as a method of financing the right to occupy and use real property.

Leasehold Estate:  A tenant's right to occupy real estate during the term of the lease.  This is a personal property interest.

Legal Advisor:  The county officer who provides legal assistance to county officials. He may be called "district attorney," "county counsel," "county attorney," or other designation.

Legal Description:  A land description recognized by law; a description by which property can be definitely located by reference to government surveys or approved recorded map.

Lessee:  One who contracts to rent, occupy, and use property under a lease agreement; a tenant.

Lessor:  An owner who enters into a lease agreement with a tenant; a landlord.

Letters Patent:  An instrument from the government (federal or state) granting land to an individual.  See also Patent.

Levy:  (Verb) To impose taxes, special assessments, or service charges for the support of governmental activities.  (Noun) The total amount of taxes, special assessments, or service charges imposed by government.

Lien:  A form of encumbrance that usually makes property security for the payment of a debt or discharge of an obligation. Judgments, taxes, mortgages, and deeds of trust are examples of liens.

Lien Date:  The time when taxes for any fiscal year become a lien on property.

Life Estate:  An estate or interest in real property that is held for the duration of the life of some certain person.  It may be limited by the life of the person holding it or by the life of some other person.

Limitations, Statute of:  The commonly used identifying term for various statutes that require that a legal action be commenced within a prescribed time after acquiring the right to seek legal relief.

Liquidity:  Holdings in or the ability to convert assets to cash or its equivalent; the ease with which a person is able to pay maturing obligations.

Lis Pendens:  Latin for "suit pending."  A notice filed or recorded for the purpose of warning all persons that the title or right to the possession of certain real property is in litigation.  The notice is usually recorded so as to give constructive notice of pending litigation.

Local Government:  A city, county, or other governing body (region, district, etc.) at a level less than a state.

Local Government Fiscal Affairs Division:  A unit within the State Controller's Office whose prime responsibilities include accounting systems, financial reporting, cost allocation plans, auditing, and property tax collection system of local agencies.

Location:  A unit within the State Controller's Office whose prime responsibilities include accounting systems, financial reporting, cost allocation plans, auditing, and property tax collection system of local agencies.

Loss of Access:  The loss by an owner of property abutting a public road to come and go to and from the road and his/her property.  This usually happens in condemnation when the abutting road becomes a limited-access highway.

Lot:  Generally, any portion or parcel of real property; the term usually refers to a portion of a subdivision.

Lot Line:  The boundary line of a lot in a subdivision.

- M -

Market Value:  Same as Fair Market Value.

Marketable Title:  The title that a reasonable purchaser, informed as to the facts and their legal importance and acting with reasonable care, would be willing to and ought to accept; title free and clear of objectionable liens or encumbrances.

Mechanic's Lien:  A lien created by statute that exists against real property in favor of persons who have performed work or furnished materials for the improvement of the real property.

Meridians:  Imaginary north-south lines that intersect base lines to form a starting point for the measurement of land. See also Base and Meridian.

Metes and Bounds:  A term used in describing the boundary lines of land, setting forth all of the boundary lines, together with their terminal points and angles.  A metes (lengths or measurements) and bounds (boundaries) description is often used when a high degree of accuracy is required.

Mineral Rights:  The ownership of the minerals (coal, gold, iron, etc.) under the ground, with or without ownership of the surface of the land.  See also Surface Rights and Subsurface Rights.

Minerals:  In real estate terms, those minerals of value that may be taken by mining, such as coal, iron, copper, gold, and silver.  Mineral rights, as well as oil rights, may be sold or leased separately from the land itself.

Minimum Bid/Minimum Price:  The lowest price at which property may be offered for sale or sold in satisfaction of defaulted taxes.

Misrepresentation:  A false or misleading statement or assertion.

Mobilehome/Manufactured Home:  A stationary, non-motorized vehicle designed and equipped for human habitation. For property tax purposes, a manufactured home is defined as containing 320 or more square feet of area, no more than two dwelling units, and not permanently affixed to land; i.e., no foundation.

Modular:  A system for the construction of a dwelling and other improvements to real property through the on-site assembly of component parts (modules) that have been mass produced away from the building site.

- N -

Negotiable Paper:  Bank checks and drafts, certificates of eligibility for senior citizens’ property tax postponement, and express and post-office money orders.  Acceptance of negotiable paper in payment of taxes is at the tax collector's discretion, except in the case of certificates of eligibility.

Notary Public:  An appointed officer with authority to take the acknowledgment of persons executing documents, to sign the certificate, and to affix an official seal.

Note:  A signed, written instrument acknowledging a debt and promising payment, according to the specified terms and conditions; a promissory note.

Notice:  1) Actual notice is express or implied knowledge of a fact. 2) Constructive notice is a fact, imputed to a person by law, that should have been discovered because of the person's actual notice of circumstances and the inquiry that a prudent person would have been expected to make. 3) Legal notice is information required to be given to a party or the public by law.

Notice of Impending Default:  A publication by the tax collector made annually, on or before June 8, of impending default for failure to pay taxes on real property, except tax-defaulted property and possessory interests.  The publication includes the taxes, assessments, penalties, and costs that will not have been fully paid by 5 p.m. on the last day of the fiscal year.

Notice of Power and Intent to Sell Tax-Defaulted Property:  The published notice made annually, on or before June 8, that the tax collector shall, subject to his/her power and intent, sell all property that will be tax-defaulted for five years or more on the date specified.

Notice to Assessee of Default/Power to Sell:  A registered letter sent by the tax collector to the assessee of tax-defaulted property between 21 and 35 days before the date on which the tax collector's power to sell for nonpayment of taxes arises.  The notice contains the information required by Revenue and Taxation Code section 3362.

Notorious Possession:  A requirement for adverse possession; possession so open and against the owner's wishes (notorious) that the owner is presumed to have notice of it and its extent.

Null and Void:  Of no legal validity or effect.

- O -

Omnibus Clause:  A clause in a will or decree of distribution that encompasses all property not specifically mentioned.

Ordinance:  A law or statute.  The term is used to designate the enactments of the legislative body of a municipal corporation or a county.

Owner of Record:  The owner of property according to the records of the county recorder.

Ownership:  Rights to the use, enjoyment, and alienation of property, to the exclusion of others.  Concerning real property, absolute rights are rare, being restricted by zoning laws, restrictions, liens, etc.

- P -

Parties of Interest:  Any persons who, at the time of a tax sale or assignees after a sale, have a legal right (by title, contract, or lien) to claim excess proceeds from the sale.

Patent:  A conveyance of title to government land.

Patent Defect:  A defect plainly visible or one that would be discovered by exercise of ordinary care.  A patent defect in a legal description is one that cannot be corrected on its face; a new description must be used.

Patented Land:  Real property that either the federal or the state government has granted to individual or collective ownership.

Penalty:  An extra amount charged for failure to pay or perform some required act by a specific deadline.  Once attached, a penalty becomes part of the tax amount.

Per Annum:  Yearly, annually; relative to a 12-month period.

Perpetuity:  Continuing forever.  Legally, pertaining to real property, any condition extending the inalienability of property beyond the time of a life or lives in being, plus twenty-one years.

Person:  Includes any person, firm, partnership, general partner of a partnership, association, corporation, company, syndicate, estate, trust, business trust, or organization of any kind.

Personal Property:  Any property that is not designated by law as real property.

Plaintiff:  In a court action, the one who sues; the complainant.

Planned Unit Development; Planned Development:  A real estate development where the facilities of certain commonly owned areas, parcels or lots are reserved for the beneficial use and enjoyment of owners of separately owned lots.  The separately owned lots may be contiguous or non-contiguous.  Deficiencies in maintenance payments on the common area, which may be separately assessed, can be enforced through foreclosure upon the offending members' separately owned lots.  See also Business and Professions Code section 11003.

Plat; Plat Map:  A map dividing a parcel of land into lots, as in a subdivision.

Plat Book:  A map dividing a parcel of land into lots, as in a subdivision.

Point of Beginning (POB):  A term used in metes and bounds descriptions.  The description starts with the words "beginning at a point" and it ends with the words "to the point of beginning."

Possession:  Being in physical control of land or personal property, whether one owns it or not.  Possession may be lawful or wrongful.

Possessory Interest:  The right to exert control over specific land, to the exclusion of others; the right to possess property by virtue of an interest created in the property, though it need not be accompanied by title; e.g., right of a tenant for years.  A possessory interest in land exists in a person who has a physical relation to the land of a kind that gives a certain degree of physical control over the land and an intent to exercise such control to exclude other members of society in general from any present occupation of the land.

Power to Sell:  The tax collector's legal obligation and ability to sell all or any portion of tax-defaulted property that has been tax-defaulted for five or more years and not redeemed.  The power to sell arises by operation of law after a declaration is published and a notice is mailed to the assessee.

Preliminary Title Report:  A report showing the condition of title before a sale or loan transaction.  After completion of the transaction, a title insurance policy is issued.  See also Title Report.

Prescriptive Easement:  The granting of an easement by a court, based on the presumption that a written easement was given (although none existed), after a period of open and continuous use of land.

Prima Facie:  At first sight; presumptive on its face; presumed true unless disproved.

Prima Facie Evidence:  Evidence good and sufficient on its face, as in the judgment of the law is sufficient to establish.

Priority of Lien:  The order in which liens are given legal precedence or preference.  A prior lien is one that is senior or superior to others.

Property:  Everything capable of being owned and acquired lawfully; the rights of ownership; the right to use, possess, enjoy, and dispose of a thing in every legal way and to exclude everyone else from interfering with these rights.  Property is classified into two groups:  personal property and real property.

Property, Personal/Personalty:  Includes all property not real property, both tangible and intangible.

Property, Real/Real Estate:  Includes the possession of, claim to, ownership of, or right to the possession of land and improvements.  Also, all mines, minerals, and quarries in the land, all standing timber whether or not belonging to the owner of the land, and all rights and privileges appertaining thereto.

Public Auction Sale:  A procedure that the tax collector employs for selling tax-defaulted property.  Each tax-defaulted property is sold to the highest bidder in order to satisfy the lien of delinquent taxes and other charges.

Public Land:  Land belonging to the federal government, not reserved for government use but subject to sale or other disposal.

Public Land System:  The legal description of land by reference to the public land survey; often called sectional property descriptions.

Public Records:  At a county level, usually the records of all documents that are necessary to give notice, including the assessment roll, the abstract of delinquent taxes, and redemption documents.  Such records must be available to the public.

Published Delinquent List:  The document issued to the highest bidder at a tax sale conveying title free of all prior liens and encumbrances of any kind except federal liens, special assessments, easement liens, and unpaid bonds.  See also Delinquent List; Deed to Purchaser.

- Q -

Quarter Section:  One quarter of a section.  A quarter section (commonly called a quarter) contains 160 acres.

Quasi:  Similar to but intrinsically different; analogous to.

Quiet Title:  A court action brought to establish title or to remove a cloud on a property's title.

Quitclaim Deed:  A deed to relinquish any interest in property that the grantor may have, without any warranty of title or interest.

- R -

Range Lines:  A series of government survey lines running north and south at six-mile intervals, starting with the principal meridian and forming the east and west boundaries of a township.

Real Estate/Realty:  1) Land, including timber and minerals, and anything permanently affixed to the land (improvements), such as planted trees and vines, buildings, fences, and those things permanently attached to buildings, such as light fixtures, plumbing and heating fixtures, or other such items that would be personal property if not attached. The term is generally synonymous with real property.  2) Rights in real property, as well as the property itself.

Reassessment:  A re-estimation of the value of property for tax assessment purposes.

Reconveyance:  The transfer of the title of land from one person to the immediately preceding owner.  This instrument of transfer is commonly used to transfer the legal title from the trustee to the trustor (borrower) after a trust deed debt has been paid in full.

Recordation:  The filing of instruments for public record (and notice) with a recorder (usually a county official).  See also Recording.

Recorded Map:  Any map recorded in a county recorder's office.  A recorded map may be a subdivision map or it may describe a non-subdivided parcel.  Reference to a recorded map is commonly used in legal descriptions.

Recorded Plat:  A subdivision map filed as a matter of public record.

Recorder's Office:  The county office where instruments are recorded, giving public notice.

Recording:  The process of placing a document on file with a designated public official for public notice.  This public official, known as the county recorder, signifies to the fact that a document has been presented by placing a recording stamp upon it, indicating the time of day and the date when it was officially placed on file.  Documents filed with the recorder are considered to be placed on open notice to the general public.  Claims against property usually are given a priority on the basis of the time and the date they are recorded, with the most preferred claim going to the earliest one recorded and the next claim going to the next earliest one recorded, and so on.  This type of general public notice is called "constructive notice" or "legal notice."

Recording Acts:  State statutes enacted to cover the public recording of deeds, mortgages, etc., and the effect of these recordings as notice to creditors, purchasers, and other interested parties.

Redeem:  To buy back, repurchase, recover; to free property from the debt of defaulted taxes.

Redemption:  The realization of a right to have the title of property restored free and clear of the lien of any taxes, through payment of money.

Redemption, Date of:  The date on which the property was redeemed, as shown on the redemption certificate.  The date that should be shown on the Rescission of the Notice of Power to Sell Tax-Defaulted Property.

Redemption, Installment Plan of:  A plan to redeem tax-defaulted property.  The plan must be initiated before the property becomes subject to the tax collector's power to sell.  See also Installment Plan.

Redemption Penalty:  A monthly penalty charged beginning when a property is added to the abstract of delinquent property and terminating as of the month of redemption.

Reformation:  An action to correct a mistake in a deed or other document.

Registered Mail:  Type of special mailing privilege given by the U.S. Postal Service for an extra fee and which provides insurance of its delivery up to a certain amount.  This service is higher in cost than certified mail.

Release:  The relinquishment, concession, or giving up of a right, claim or privilege, by the person in whom it exists or to whom it accrues, to the person in whom it might have been demanded or enforced.

Release of Equity:  Relinquishment of any right in or claim to the surplus value above the total liens and charges against a property.  A release of equity is recorded to establish on the public record a legal title lacking nothing in its completeness.  A release of equity would also be recorded after redemption of a parcel that was tax deeded by a conveyance of real estate sold for the nonpayment of property taxes to the State of California.  This process ceased after passage of Chapter 988, Statutes of 1984, which went into effect on September 11, 1984.

Relinquishment:  A forsaking, abandoning, renouncing, or giving over of a right. See also Abandonment.

Replicate:  To duplicate, such as a replicated property tax payment.

Replicated Payment:  A tax payment on a property for which payment has already been received.

Rerecording:  The recording of a deed or other document a second time to correct an error contained in the instrument when originally recorded.

Rescind:  To void or cancel in such a way as to treat the contract or other object of the rescission as if it never existed.

Rescission:  The cancellation of a document and the restoration of the parties thereto to the same position they held before the document was entered into the record.

Reservation:  A right retained by a grantor in conveying property.

Restriction:  A limitation on the use of real property.  Property restrictions fall into two general classifications:  public and private.  Zoning ordinances are examples of the public type.  Restrictions may be created by private owners, typically by appropriate clauses in the deed, in agreements, or in general plans of entire subdivisions.  Usually restrictions assume the form of a covenant, or a promise to do or not do a certain thing.

Returned Mail:  Mail which the postal service has determined to be undeliverable and brings back to its sender.  Usually certified notices or statements sent to last assessees and parties of interest and returned unopened.

Revenue District:  Includes every city and district for which the county officers assess property and collect taxes or assessments.

Revenue Stamps:  Government stamps (similar to postage stamps) affixed to a conveying instrument (deed), or rubber stamps imprinted on such documents to show the amount of tax imposed on the real estate transaction.  See also Documentary Transfer Tax.

Reversion:  The right to possession of the residue of an estate in a grantor or successors of a grantor or testator, commencing upon the termination of a particular estate, granted or devised.

Right of Survivorship:  The right of a surviving tenant or tenants to succeed to the entire interest of the deceased tenant; the distinguishing feature of a joint tenancy.

Right of Way:  A privilege operating as an easement upon land, whereby the owner does, by grant or by agreement, give to another the right to:  pass over the land; construct a roadway, or use as a roadway, a specific part of the land; construct through and over the land telecommunications, telegraph, or electric power lines; or place underground water, gas, or sewer pipes on the land.

Right, Title and Interest:  A term used in deeds to denote that the grantor is conveying all of that to which grantor held claim.

Roll, Assessment:  The list of property, prepared by the assessor or other authorized party, upon which taxes and other specified charges may be levied within a county or district.  The entire county assessment roll includes both secured and unsecured types of property.

Roll, Board:  That part of the secured roll containing state-assessed property, such as railways, inter-county pipelines, flumes, and ditches.  The board roll is often referred to as the "utility roll."

Roll, Local:  Those parts of the secured and unsecured roll containing property that it is the county assessor's duty to assess.

Roll, Machine-Prepared:  The assessment roll prepared by electronic data processing equipment, bookkeeping machine, typewriter or other mechanical device.  Such roll may be displayed in printed form, on microfilm, microfiche or by any other means that would make it readily available to the public in a legible form.

Running with the Land:  Passing with transfer of the land.  A covenant is said to run with the land when either the liability to perform it or the right to take advantage of it passes to the assignee of the land.  This term is usually used in conjunction with easements and covenants.

- S -

Sale Number:  Formerly, a number assigned to a parcel having delinquent taxes at the time of sale to the State.  The number was used in conjunction with the fiscal year for which the taxes originally became a lien upon the property.  This number is now called the tax-default number or the default number.

Sale to the State:  Formerly, a number assigned to a parcel having delinquent taxes at the time of sale to the State. The number was used in conjunction with the fiscal year for which the taxes originally became a lien upon the property.  This number is now called the tax-default number or the default number.

Sealed Bid Sale:  A Chapter 7 procedure of selling tax-defaulted property to an owner, who is the highest bidder in a sealed bid sale process, of contiguous property.

Section:  A unit of land, established by government survey, that contain 640 acres and is one mile square.

Secured Roll/Secured Taxes:  The listing of property that, in the opinion of the assessor, has sufficient value to guarantee payment of taxes levied thereon.  "Secured taxes" are those which, if unpaid, can be satisfied by sale of realty against which they are levied.

Segregation/Separate Valuation:  The act or process of separately valuing an interest in an original assessment appearing on the current roll, to allow taxes for that portion to be paid.

Seizure and Sale:  The act of taking possession and selling property belonging to an assessee in order to pay the lien of delinquent unsecured taxes.

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA):  (2003) A federal law that suspends or modifies an active servicemember's civil liabilities and requires persons, who want to enforce their claims against servicemembers, to follow certain procedures.  Expanded and improved the former Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act (SSCRA).

Severalty Ownership:  Ownership by one person only; sole ownership.

Sheriff's Deed:  A deed given by court order in connection with the sale of property to satisfy a judgment.

Simple Interest:  Interest computed only on the principal amount of a loan, as distinguished from compound interest.

Situs:  Place, location of property, address.

Sold to the State:  A term applicable between 1872 and 1984, meaning that a lien in favor of the State of California had been created because of delinquency of a secured tax.  The term apparently came from an early law that required the State to purchase a property in tax delinquent status if no redemptioner came forward.  From 1895 onward, the phrase identified a property having delinquent taxes but not yet deeded to the State.

Special Assessment:  A legal charge against real estate by a public authority to pay the cost of such public improvements as street lights, sidewalks, and street improvements.

Special Assessment Roll:  The official list showing the amount of special assessments levied against each property presumed to be benefited by an improvement or service.

Special District:  An independent unit of local government organized to perform a single governmental function or a restricted number of related functions.  Special districts usually have the power to incur debt and levy taxes; however, certain types of special districts are entirely dependent upon enterprise earnings and cannot impose taxes.  Examples of special districts are water districts, drainage districts, flood control districts, hospital districts, fire protection districts, transit authorities, port authorities, and electric power authorities.

State Board:  Refers to the State Board of Equalization.

Statute:  A law that comes from a legislative body.  A written, codified law.

Statute of Limitations:  A law that limits the bringing of a court action (civil or criminal) to within a specified period of time.

Statutory Dedication:  The giving of private land for public use under a procedure dictated by statute.

Statutory Lien:  An involuntary lien (created by law rather than by contract).  Tax liens, judgment liens, and mechanic's liens are examples of statutory liens.

Statutory Notice:  The giving of private land for public use under a procedure dictated by statute.

Stay:  A court-ordered cessation of a proceeding.

Stock Cooperative:  A corporation formed to hold fee simple title to improved real property for a term of years.  Each shareholder receives an exclusive right of occupancy in some portion of the real property and the right of beneficial use and enjoyment in designated common areas.  Shares of stock or certificates of membership are deemed interests in a real estate development.  See also Business and Professions Code section 11003.1.

Street Improvements:  Improvements connected with a street, such as paving, sidewalks, curbs, etc.

Street Improvement Bonds:  Interest-bearing bonds issued by a local government, to secure assessments for street improvements. The owners of the property assessed may pay the principal and interest in a lump sum or in installments.

Subdivision:  Commonly, a division of a single parcel of land into smaller parcels, or lots, by filing a map describing the division and obtaining approval by a city or county.

Subdivision Map:  A map submitted by a subdivider to the proper governmental body for approval in order to establish a subdivision. When the map is approved and recorded, it becomes the basis for the legal description of the subdivision.

Subject to Sale:  A property becomes subject to the tax collector's power of sale five or more years after the property becomes tax-defaulted.  See also Notice of Power to Sell Tax-Defaulted Property and Power to Sell.

Subordinate:  To make subject to or junior to, as in a subordinate lien.

Subordinate Agreement:  An agreement by which an encumbrance is made subject (junior) to an encumbrance.  For example:  A loan on vacant land is made subject to a subsequent construction loan.

Subpoena:  A legal order to cause a witness to appear in court or before some officer to give testimony.

Subsurface Rights:  The rights, whether by fee or easement, to oil, gas, or minerals, below a certain depth beneath the surface of the earth.  The right of surface entry may or may not be excluded.

Succession:  The passing of real property by will or inheritance, rather than by grant of a deed or any other form of purchase.

Summary Judgment:  These superior court filings are an excellent way to obtain an enforceable judgment.  They have the same force and effect as any other judgment in superior court and can be used to attach wages, bank accounts, and other assets.  Penalties continue to accrue at the allowable rate within the Revenue and Taxation Code rather than being modified to the lower legal interest rate that may apply to other judgments.  An immediate rendering of a court's determination where there is believed to be no genuine issue of material fact (i.e., the plaintiff undoubtedly would provide as a matter of law).  Example:  a certified claim for judgment for unpaid taxes is made by the tax collector; as a matter of course, the county clerk enters a judgment to enforce the tax collector's claim; once recorded, the amount claimed constitutes a lien upon all property of the assessee and is superior to all liens later filed.

A summary judgment maximizes the return and avoids the additional bookkeeping required with other types of judgments.  Some counties use summary judgment for all tax delinquencies over ten dollars ($10), some restrict their use to delinquencies over fifty dollars ($50), others to delinquencies over five hundred dollars ($500).  The cost to the county is mainly in the mailing of a certified notice.

Summary judgments and all other court judgments appear on credit reports.

Supplemental Assessment:  An adjustment in valuation that reflects an increase in a property’s taxable value as a result of a change of ownership or completion of new construction.

Supplemental Tax Bill:  A bill reflecting a tax increase as a result of upward changes in assessed value due to changes in ownership or completion of new construction.

Surface Rights:  The rights (easements) to use the surface of land, including the right to drill or mine through the surface when subsurface rights are involved.

Survey:  The process by which a parcel of land is measured and its area ascertained.

- T -

Tax:  The enforced charge exacted of persons, corporations and organizations by the government, to be used to support government services and programs.

Tax Assessment:  The value given to property that is being taxed.  Multiplying the net taxable valuation by the tax rate yields the tax due.

Tax Clearance Certificate:  A document issued by a tax collector certifying that taxes relative to a particular mobilehome are paid. The California Department of Housing and Community Development cannot transfer the title of a mobilehome first sold new after July 1, 1980, without such a document.

Tax Deed:  The recorded document known as "Conveyance of Real Estate Sold for Nonpayment of Property Taxes for Fiscal Year 20__ - 20__."  This deed would convey a fee defeasible title to the State of California and would be defeated either by a full redemption or a sale by public auction, sealed bid or agreement of sale.  Upon redemption a "Release of Equity" would be recorded to release the States interest.  In the event of a sale, a "Tax Deed to the Purchaser" would be recorded.

Tax Default/Tax-Defaulted:  Describes the onset of a period wherein tax-delinquent secured property becomes subject to redemption penalties and fees.  Five years after becoming "tax-defaulted", a property, by operation of law, becomes subject to the tax collector's power of sale.

Tax District:  An area over which a governmental body has authority to levy property taxes.  A tax district may contain one or more assessment districts.

Tax Exemption:  An area over which a governmental body has authority to levy property taxes.  A tax district may contain one or more assessment districts.

Tax Lien:  A charge against or an interest in property to obligate (encumber) the property or its owner in order to satisfy levies of the government.

Tax Rate:  A factor derived by combining revenue requirements of various taxing agencies and districts within specific areas and expressing the combined figure in relation to the total assessed valuation of each area.  Traditionally, it is the ratio of dollars of tax per one hundred dollars of valuation.

Tax Roll:  A list, usually published by a county, containing the description of all parcels in the county, the names of the owners (or those receiving the tax bill), the assessed value, and the tax amount, which list is prepared and authenticated in proper form to warrant the collecting officers to proceed with the enforcement of the tax.

Tax Sale:  Public sale of property at auction by governmental authority, after a period of nonpayment of property tax.

Tax Search:  A part of a title search that determines if there is any unpaid tax or assessment that may be a lien against the property being searched.

Tax Title:  Title held by one who purchases property at a tax sale.

Taxes Default:  The amount of taxes which were a lien on the real estate at the time of the declaration of default.

Taxing Agency:  May be the State, a county, a city, or any district that assesses property for taxation purposes and levies taxes or assessments on the property so assessed.

Teeter Plan:  An alternative method of tax sale procedures and of distribution of tax levies and collections.

Tenancy in Common:  Co-ownership of property by two or more persons who each hold an undivided interest without the right of survivorship.  The interests need not be equal.

Tenant:  The party who has legal possession and use of real property belonging to another.

Tentative Map:  The map that a sub-divider initially submits, for study, to the local planning commission, as required by the Subdivision Map Act.  The approval or disapproval of the planning commission is noted on the map.  Thereafter, a final map of the tract, embodying any changes requested by the planning commission, must be filed.

Tide Lands:  Lands that are covered at the highest point of the tide.  These lands are State property and cannot be used for private purposes.  Even though the tide may lower over a period of years, the land remains State property.

Timber:  Trees of any species maintained for eventual harvest for forest product purposes, whether planted or of natural growth, standing or down, on privately or publicly owned lands.  Timber includes Christmas trees but not nursery stock.

Timesharing/Timeshare Projects/Timeshare Estates):  A real estate development in which a purchaser receives the right (in perpetuity, for life, or for a term of years) to the exclusive, recurrent use or occupancy of a particular segment or unit, usually on an annually recurring basis.  For example:  Fifty-two different purchasers buy one condominium; each agrees to possession for one week per year; costs (taxes, insurance, maintenance, etc.) are shared equally.  Possession may be fixed, or by reservation, lease, license, etc.

Title:  Indicates "fee" position of lawful ownership and right to property.  "Bundle of rights" possessed by an owner. Combination of all elements constituting proof or ownership.

Title Insurance:  Insurance to protect a real property owner or lender up to a specified amount against certain types of loss owing to defective or unmarketable title.

Title Report:  A report that discloses the condition of the title, prepared by a title company before it issues a title insurance policy.

Tort:  A private or civil wrong or injury, other than breach of contract, for which the court will provide a remedy in the form of an action for damages.

Townhouse:  One of a row of houses, usually of the same or similar design, with common side walls or with a very narrow space between adjacent side walls.

Township:  In the survey of public lands of the United States, a territorial subdivision six miles long and six miles wide, containing 36 one-mile-square sections, located between two range lines and two township lines.

Township Lines:  Survey lines that divide townships at their northern and southern boundaries.  The east and west boundaries are called range lines.

Trade Fixtures:  Articles of personal property that are constructively or physically annexed to real property by a business tenant and are necessary to the carrying on of a trade. Ordinarily, trade fixtures are removable by the tenant.

Transfer Fee:  A charge made by a lending institution holding or collecting on a real estate mortgage to change its records to reflect a different ownership.

Transfer Tax:  Government tax on the transfer of real property.  Based on the purchase price or money changing hands. Also called "Documentary Transfer Tax."

Trust Deed:  A legal document by which a borrower pledges certain real property as a guarantee for repayment of a loan. A trust deed differs from a mortgage in some important respects.  For example, instead of there being two parties to the transaction there are three: 1) the borrower, or trustor, who signs the trust deed; 2) the third or neutral party, the trustee, to whom trustor deeds the property as security for payment of the debt; and 3) the lender, or beneficiary, who benefits from the pledge agreement.  In the event of default, the trustee can sell the property and transfer the money thus obtained to the lender as payment of the debt.

Trustee:  One who holds property in trust for another to secure the performance of an obligation; a third party under a deed of trust.

Trustee, Bankruptcy:  One appointed by a bankruptcy court, and in whom the property of the bankrupt vests.  The trustee holds the property in trust, not for the bankrupt but for the creditors.

Trustee's Deed:  A deed by a trustee under a deed of trust, issued to a purchaser at auction, pursuant to foreclosure.

Trustor:  One who deeds property to a trustee to be held as security until the trustor has performed obligations to a lender under the terms of a deed of trust.

- U -

Undivided Interest:  An interest by two or more persons in the same property, whether the interest of each is equal or not.

Unencumbered:  Free and clear of liens and other encumbrances.

Uniform Commercial Code (UCC):  A set of laws drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, governing commercial transactions (commercial paper, bank deposits and collections, bulk transfers, investment securities, etc.).  The code was adopted as California law in 1963, effective January 1, 1965. See also the California Commercial Code.

Unimproved Land:  Most commonly, land without buildings; it can also mean land in its natural state.

Unincorporated Area:  An area of a county that has not formed a municipal corporation (become a city) or is not otherwise operating under a separate charter.

Unmarketable Title:  A title which has serious defects and is therefore unsalable.

Unrecorded Instrument:  A deed, mortgage, etc., that is not recorded in the county recorder's office and, therefore, not protected under recording statutes.  An unrecorded instrument is valid between the parties involved but not against innocent third parties.

Unsecured Roll:  The county assessor's certified assessment listing of properties that, in his/her opinion, do not constitute sufficient permanence, through immovability or other intrinsic qualities, to guarantee payment of taxes levied against them.

Unsecured Taxes:  Charges levied from assessment liens against property, where such charges cannot be satisfied by tax default of the property but only by some action against the person responsible for payment; taxes levied against property that is not deemed secured.

Usury:  On a loan, the charging of a rate of interest greater than permitted by law.

Utility:  The ability to give satisfaction and/or excite desire for possession.  An element of value.

Utility Roll:  See also Roll, Board.

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Valid:  Having force, or binding force; legally sufficient and authorized by law.

Validating Acts:  Legislation periodically enacted after 1903 and biennially since 1943, which creates a legal presumption after a specified passage of time that all acts, beginning with the assessment of property up to and including the notice of power to sell tax-defaulted property, have been performed in accordance with law.  Validating acts cure minor defects caused by nonconformance to statutory law.

Valuable Consideration:  A legal term meaning any consideration sufficient to support a contract.  The word "valuable" does not mean "of great value" but merely "having value."

Valuation:  The estimated worth or value; the act of valuing by appraisal.

Variance:  A change or waiver of a portion of zoning requirements without the zoning being changed.

Vest:  To give an immediate interest, as opposed to a contingent or future interest; bestowed upon someone; secured by someone, such as title to property.

Vested:  Bestowed upon someone; secured by someone, such as title to property.

Void:  To have no force or effect; unenforceable.

Voidable:  Capable of being adjudged void but not void unless action is taken to make it so.

Voluntary Lien:  Any lien placed on property with the consent of, or as a result of, the voluntary act of the owner.

Voucher:  A signed or stamped document that serves as proof that the terms of a transaction have been met.

- W -

Will:  A written, legal declaration of a person expressing his/her desires for the disposition of the person's property after death.

Witness:  (1) To sign a deed, note, or other document, to attest to its authenticity, or to prove its execution. (2) The person attesting.

- X -

(No entries for the letter "X".)

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(No entries for the letter "Y".)

- Z -

Zone:  An area of a county or city in which the use of the land and improvements is restricted by law.

Zoning:  The division of a city or county by legislative regulations into areas (zones), specifying the uses allowable for the real property in these areas.

Zoning Map:  A map of a community showing the zones of permitted use under zoning ordinances.

Zoning Ordinance:  A law (generally at the city or county level) controlling the use of land and construction of improvements in a given area (zone).


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