2020 Georgia Code
Title 44 - Property
Chapter 2 - Recordation and Registration of Deeds and Other Instruments
Article 1 - Recording
Part 1 - Recording of Deeds and Other Real Property Transactions
§ 44-2-22. Legal Effect of Good Record Title for 40 Years

Universal Citation: GA Code § 44-2-22 (2020)

A prima-facie case shall be made out in actions respecting title to land upon showing good record title for a period of 40 years, and it shall not be necessary under such circumstances to prove title to the original grant from the state.

(Ga. L. 1953, Jan.-Feb. Sess., p. 63, § 1.)

Law reviews.

- For article surveying real property law, see 34 Mercer L. Rev. 255 (1982). For note advocating land registration similar to the Torrens system and criticizing the 1952 amendments to Art. 2 of this chapter, as well as view that that article is solely a means to clear title, see 6 Mercer L. Rev. 320 (1955).


Section constitutes major change in rules of evidence in cases involving title to land. Shippen v. Cloer, 213 Ga. 172, 97 S.E.2d 563 (1957) (see O.C.G.A. § 44-2-22).

Section not sole means of proving ownership.

- In an ejectment action by a landowner against a sign company, the landowner was not required to show record title for 40 years to prove ownership of the property; O.C.G.A. § 44-2-22 does not provide the sole means by which a party may prove ownership of land, but merely supplies an evidentiary shortcut to proving ownership of land when two parties make adverse claims to the land. Outdoor Sys. v. Woodson, 221 Ga. App. 901, 473 S.E.2d 204 (1996).

Proving ownership prior to passage of statute.

- Prior to enactment of this statute, when a plaintiff in ejectment relied upon a record or paper title to prove ownership, it was necessary, in order to make out a prima facie case, to prove a regular chain of title from the state, or from some grantor in possession, or from a common source from which the grantor and the defendant claimed. Shippen v. Cloer, 213 Ga. 172, 97 S.E.2d 563 (1957) (see O.C.G.A. § 44-2-22).

Effect of recital in deed of source of title.

- Although a recital in a deed that the parties making the deed were heirs at law of a former owner is not evidence of the fact recited, except as against parties to the deed and their privies, it may be sufficient to show prima facie good title in the grantee. Herrington v. Church of Lord Jesus Christ, 222 Ga. 542, 150 S.E.2d 805 (1966).

Defenses to ejectment action survive section's enactment.

- Defendant in ejectment action may assert defenses which the defendant could assert prior to section's enactment; after the plaintiff has established plaintiff's prima facie case by showing a good record title for 40 years, the burden of proceeding is upon the defendant, who must introduce evidence to rebut the plaintiff's prima facie case; otherwise the plaintiff's evidence will demand a verdict in plaintiff's favor. Shippen v. Cloer, 213 Ga. 172, 97 S.E.2d 563 (1957) (see O.C.G.A. § 44-2-22).

Statute is merely a rule of evidence under which the plaintiff in ejectment can make a prima facie case; the statute did not change the fundamental rules governing the ownership of property, and the statute does not deprive the defendant in ejectment of any defenses which the defendant could have asserted prior to the enactment of this statute. Costello v. Styles, 227 Ga. 650, 182 S.E.2d 427 (1971) (see O.C.G.A. § 44-2-22).

Legal title in third person.

- Defendant, except when some special relationship between defendant and the plaintiff forbids it, may defeat a recovery by showing, beyond all controversy, legal title in a third person, without connecting defendant with that title, provided the title so shown was subsisted at the date of the commencement of the action and was paramount to the plaintiff's. Shippen v. Cloer, 213 Ga. 172, 97 S.E.2d 563 (1957).

Ripening of prescriptive title in another.

- When the plaintiff made out a prima facie case when the plaintiff introduced in evidence the plaintiff's chain of title, such a title, like any other title to land, may be lost by the subsequent ripening of a prescriptive title thereto in another. Hearn v. Leverette, 213 Ga. 286, 99 S.E.2d 147 (1957).

When both parties in action apparently have good title, legal title determined by other evidence.

- When the plaintiff and the defendant in an ejectment action each appear to have good record title for 40 years from separate sources, other evidence must be resorted to in order to determine the owner of the legal title. Costello v. Styles, 227 Ga. 650, 182 S.E.2d 427 (1971).

Deed referencing a plat with certain description established boundary.

- In a boundary dispute, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 44-2-22, a landowner established a prima facie case upon showing good record title for a period of 40 years: the landowner's 1956 deed referenced a survey plat that described the boundary with certain metes and bounds and measurements, while the neighbors' 1936 deed provided insufficient means to determine the boundary. Mathews v. Cloud, 294 Ga. 415, 754 S.E.2d 70 (2014).

Ejectment petition properly denied.

- When an original property owner, in the owner's ejectment petition, did not present any testimony or documentary evidence that the grantor had title to the property purportedly conveyed by the quitclaim deed, the owner failed to make out a prima-facie case based on good record title for a period of 40 years. Brooks v. Green, 277 Ga. 722, 594 S.E.2d 629 (2004).

Cited in Finney v. Green, 211 Ga. 143, 84 S.E.2d 28 (1954); Seal v. Aldredge, 100 Ga. App. 458, 111 S.E.2d 769 (1959); John Doe v. Roe, 234 Ga. 127, 214 S.E.2d 880 (1975).

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