In recent years local governments have ramped up their investigation and prosecution of private property owners who allegedly have in place non-permitted structures on their property. Frequently the government records violation notices, or “red tags,” in the recorder’s office listing the alleged zoning violations. The effect can be catastrophic for property owners, who cannot refinance or sell their property with the red tag in place. The onus is then on the owner to initiate costly litigation to have the red tag removed, or expunged. In Santa Cruz County alone, there are hundreds if not thousands of properties with red tags clouding title, many of which have been on the record books for over ten years.
However, last year the California Court of Appeal in an unpublished decision, Carrick v. County of Santa Cruz, held that local governments have no authority to record a red tag on private property without a court order. The Court of Appeal held that Government Code section 27201(a) “restricts recordation to any notice ‘that is authorized or required by statute or court order to be recorded….’” Local governments have no statutory authority to cloud title with a red tag unless a court order has first been obtained.
The effect of this decision has been beneficial for property owners statewide. Several local governments have initiated procedures to allow property owners to expunge unwarranted red tags, and to restore clear title without costly litigation. If you have a red tag on your property, call the Constitutional property lawyers at Kassouni Law for a consultation 1 (877) 770-7379. Tim Kassouni will speak with you personally to assess your property’s red tag matter.