Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

1410 Posts and Counting

Real Estate Alert: Beware of Title Wash of Deed Reservations on Unseated Lands by tax sale deeds.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | August 19, 2018

No. 1,549

HERDER SPRING HUNTING CLUB v. KELLER et al., 143 A.3d 358 (2016).

WOODHOUSE HUNTING CLUB, INC. v. HOYT et al., 2018 Pa. Super 78 (2018).

CORNWELL MOUNTAIN INVESTMENTS, LP et al.  v. PROCTOR HEIRS TRUST et al., 2017 Pa. Super 74 (2017)


Image: state impact.npr.org

There is an exception to the black letter law principle in Pennsylvania that an exception and reservation in a deed of the “mineral estate” or parts of it cannot be divested or abandoned by operation of law.

It seems that there was a statute enacted in 1806 that required that such a severance of title be reported to the County Commissioners, so that it could be taken into account in the land tax assessments. When the owner of the reserved parcel failed to do so, a subsequent tax sale would convey the full interest, including the reservation, which would thereby be divested.  This phenomenon is called a “title wash.”

As the Supreme Court noted in Herder Spring, this issue became worthy of dispute with the development of Marcellus Shale.

If you have a potential title wash back in your chain of title, you may want to study Herder Spring and the two Superior Court cases that follow it, linked above.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

  • Recent Posts

  • Posts You Might Like

  • Subscribe to our feed