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Church Loses Property after Violating Deed Restriction

Why a New York court said a diocese’s building and land must be returned to the previous owner.

New York
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Key point 7-14. Some deeds to church property contain a “reversion” clause stating that title will revert back to the previous owner in the event that a specified condition occurs. The courts will enforce such provisions, so long as they can do so without interpreting church doctrine.

A New York court enforced a provision in a deed of property to a Catholic diocese that called for the return of the property to the prior owner in the event it ceased to be used for religious purposes.

Background

In 1896, the president of a business corporation (the grantor) executed a deed by which the grantor transferred property in New York to a Catholic diocese.

The deed stated that the property was to be used “for [c]hurch purposes only . . . and in case the said premises shall be devoted to any other use than for [c]hurch purposes . . . this conveyance shall be void and the [grantor] shall ...

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Posted:
  • June 17, 2021

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