The Florida Marketable Record Title Act (“MRTA”) was enacted in 1963 to simplify conveyances of real property and provide greater certainty to landowners. Generally, MRTA provides that any person holding any recorded estate or interest in land for 30 years or more has title to the land, free and clear of most claims or encumbrances. By eliminating many old and stale title claims, MRTA makes examining title to real property less labor intensive. An important effect of MRTA is that covenants and restrictions may be extinguished 30 years after their creation.
Restrictive Covenants Imposed by Governmental Zoning Approvals Are Not Subject to MRTA
Recently, in Save Calusa Trust v. St. Andrews Holdings, Ltd., et al., Nos. 3D14-2682 & 3D14-2690 (Fla. 3d DCA Jan. 13, 2016), the Third District addressed whether a restrictive covenant that is recorded in compliance with a government-imposed land use approval is a title interest subject to extinguishment by MRTA. The developer in that case sought both a rezoning and an “unusual use” approval in 1967 to create a new golf course development in Miami-Dade County. In a resolution approving the developer’s “unusual use” application, the County’s Zoning Appeals Board imposed a restrictive covenant requiring the property to be perpetually maintained as a golf course. Thereafter, the restrictive covenant was recorded in 1968, and the developer subsequently sold the property. In 2012, after acquiring the subject property and realizing that the golf course was no longer profitable, the subsequent developer/owner filed an action in circuit court to declare the restrictive covenant void, arguing it had been extinguished under MRTA. The Third District disagreed and held that because the restrictive covenant had been imposed through the governmental zoning reclassification approval process, the covenant did not fall within the purview of MRTA’s extinguishing effect.
Impact of Proposed MRTA Amendments