What Is Legal Proof of Property Ownership?

By David McGuffin - Updated June 19, 2017
Title deed for a house

The title or deed to a property is the best proof of legal ownership. You may need to produce the deed to verify your ownership, especially if there are tax liens or back taxes owed on the property. If a deed or title is misplaced or lost, an alternative form of proof needs to be acquired.

Title or Deed

The title or deed to a piece of property, whether it be land or vehicle, is the most basic form of proof of ownership. Titles and deeds must be signed by a notary public to legally ensure that the document is valid.

Bill of Sale

A bill of sale is a document written by the seller of a piece of property to the buyer that transfers the ownership of the property. The bill of sale also documents the basic agreement of the sale and acts as a sales receipt. The bill of sale usually serves as evidence of a transfer of the property until the title or deed can be transferred and notarized.

Significance of Property Ownership

For business owners and entrepreneurs, property ownership is fundamental, in most cases, to starting a business. According to Seattle Real Estate News, more than 80 percent of all businesses in the United States were started as a result of using the home as a collateral.

History of Property Ownership

Before the mid-1800s, property ownership was only recognized in local jurisdictions. It was not until well into the later 1800s that a national system of legal ownership developed through recognized the deed or title of the property and the person to whom it belonged.

Lost Titles or Deeds

Lost titles or deeds must be reclaimed at the local courthouse or county clerk's office, where you can look up your property in the land file records. The title must be in your name and will need to be notarized once you have made a copy of it.

About the Author

David McGuffin is a writer from Asheville, N.C. and began writing professionally in 2009. He has Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of North Carolina, Asheville and Montreat College in history and music, and a Bachelor of Science in outdoor education. McGuffin is recognized as an Undergraduate Research Scholar for publishing original research on postmodern music theory and analysis.

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