Slander of title is a claim involving real estate in which one entity falsely claims to own another entity’s property. It can also be casting aspersion on someone else’s property business or goods. It can be defined as “a false and malicious statement, oral or written, made in disparagement of a person's title to real or personal property, or of some right of his, causing him special damage." [Old Plantation Corp. v. Maule Industries, Inc., 68 So. 2d 180, 181 (Fla. 1953)]
The essential elements of a slander of title cause of action "are the uttering and publication of the slanderous words by the defendant, the falsity of the words, malice, and special damages." [Donald M. Paterson, Inc. v. Bonda, 425 So. 2d 206, 208 (Fla. 4th DCA 1983)]In order to establish the elements of slander of title, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant has communicated to a third party a false statement disparaging title which has caused the plaintiff actual damage. [Residential Communities of Am. v. Escondido Community Ass'n, 645 So. 2d 149, 150 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994)]
Malice is presumed if the disparagement of title to real property is false, causes damage, and is not privileged. However the presumption of malice can be overcome by the showing of privilege. A showing of privilege rebuts the presumption of malice and the plaintiff must then prove actual malice in order to recover in a slander of title action. The affirmative defense of good faith raises a privilege and creates a factual issue as to the existence of malice. [Allington Towers Condominium N. v. Allington Towers N., 415 So. 2d 118 (Fla. 4th DCA 1982)]
The term slander of title is somewhat of a misnomer because slander refers to that which is spoken. The tort slander of title requires publication. “Although the term "slander" is more appropriate to the defamation of the character of an individual, yet the term "slander of title" has by use become a recognized phrase of the law.”[ Old Plantation Corp. v. Maule Industries, Inc., 68 So. 2d 180, 181 (Fla. 1953)].
A slander of title suit can be made in a variety of circumstances including but not limited to" the filing of an invalid lien against real property or virtually any type of recordable instrument recorded against a property by one without privilege which is untrue.