P conveyed his property to the county of Modoc "to be used as and for a county high school ground and premises, for the county of Modoc, state of CA."
The county did not use the land as a school but instead conveyed the land to D Dunaway.
P brought the action to quiet title, seeking to take the property back. The county and Dunaway fought the quiet title.
Trial court found for P, granted land to conveyor.
CA Supreme Court reversed, granted land to D Dunaway.
May conditions subsequent to conveyance of property be enforced?
Conditions subsequent to conveyance of property may be enforced, but they are not favored; the rule of construction is that of strictness against the grantor and in favor of the estate.
They may only be created by apt and appropriate language.
Under no decision of this or any other court has language such as is here used ever been construed to create a condition subsequent.
At the least, it is but a declaration of the purpose for which the granted expected the land would be used.
At the most, it is but a covenant.
Examples of proper language:
"Upon the conditions, however, that the premises shall be used solely"; "and for no other purposes whatsoever."
Re-entry and continued possession of land after a failed conditions subsequent transaction can excuse the delay in resorting to equity to remove the cloud from a title.
Here, the grantor did no more than to indicate his purpose in making the deed, and the use to which he expected the land to be put. But such language is entirely inadequate to create a condition.
There is a principle which holds in mind the circumstances under which such a deed is made, and the fact whether or not an adequate consideration has been paid to the grantor.
These facts and circumstances, of course, cannot tend to enlarge or restrict the estate actually granted.
They are of value only as an aid in arriving at the actual intent of the parties. But whatever the intent may have been, it must have found adequate expression in the deed itself before it can be given either legal or equitable efficacy.