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Action to Quiet Title: Suit to Quiet Title

According to real estate law, if you own the title to a property, you are the property’s legitimate owner. Consequently, you are free to live on or sell the property as you see fit. However, property ownership is not always clear-cut; disagreements regularly occur over who truly owns the title and the land itself.

The person whose ownership rights are being contested may need to take legal action to terminate the issue and reinstate their title rights. This would be referred to as a “silent title” action. Generally, associated conflicts arise when another party has cause to believe it also has a claim to the property. Therefore, the purpose of a suit to quiet title is to remove the opposing party’s claim so that the title is deemed free and clear.

There are several reasons why a second party may claim they are entitled to the property and contest the true title holder’s rights. When family members debate about whether the title was correctly transferred from the previous owner to the new owner, for instance. This particular instance is also typical when there are co-owners of a property.

In summary, a suit to quiet title is filed by the individual whose ownership is being contested. This is done in order to get a court injunction prohibiting anyone else from claiming ownership of the property. The purpose of quiet title actions is to eliminate all claims to a property. The title dispute is sometimes known as a “fog” on the title or a title flaw.

Why would it be advantageous to establish property ownership?

According to property law, a piece of real property’s title grants a party either a legal or equitable interest. The transfer of real property may be hampered by prior ownership conflicts and a muddled title. Another reason why it is advantageous to verify property ownership is that title insurance is required when purchasing real estate. However, it is very difficult to obtain title insurance on a property with a clouded title.

Establishing ownership of property early on is also advantageous. Prior to the transfer of ownership, a title report will reveal whether there are any title clouds, which can be costly and time-consuming to resolve. A quiet title litigation can resolve title difficulties like as ownership disputes and recording errors. This would assure that no other parties claiming an ownership interest in the land would oppose the sale.

The most frequent claims for quiet title include, but will be examined in greater detail below:

  • A conflict involving a mortgage or lien on the property;
  • A boundary dispute exists; or
  • Someone utilized an easement on the land without ever having the easement recorded on the property’s deed.
  • Simply expressed, establishing title to a property is advantageous since it facilitates the purchase and sale of the property in the future. It provides clarity in situations that might otherwise be ambiguous without a defined property title.

When is a “Cloud on Title” Present?

Due to the fact that silent title actions revolve around a cloud on title, it is advantageous to talk and comprehend what a cloud on title is and when it occurs. If there is a cloud on the title, there is often a legal infraction associated with the title deed.

These types of legal issues include the following:

  • The property has been erroneously specified on the title deed, for example, the land’s boundaries were recorded incorrectly;
  • As indicated previously, a lengthy easement on the property was not really recorded on the title deed.
  • Disputes over property taxes, such as the city claiming that the new owner’s title is invalid due to unpaid past taxes;
  • The title was transferred to the new owner through coercion or other false reasons; or
  • Other problems with accurately documenting the title include the omission of an old lease on the land.

What Does a Quiet Title Action Aim to Accomplish? Who May File an Action to Quiet Title?

Reiterating, an action to quiet title is brought by a title holder when their claim is contested by another party. This other party likewise asserts ownership rights to the property and title. The silent title procedure resolves the disputing party’s claim, allowing them to regain a title devoid of controversy. The court will decide who the actual property owner is based on a number of variables, despite the title owner’s hopes that the issue will be settled. Consequently, either party could be granted ownership of the property.

Each state has its own rules governing quiet title actions and qualifying requirements for filing such an action. The majority of states require that the claimant for quiet title be in possession of the real property at the time of filing. If there is a mortgage on the property, certain states require the mortgagee or lender to file the action to quiet the title. A local attorney is most prepared to clarify the eligibility requirements for filing an action to quiet title.

How long does the procedure for a quiet title action take? What are Some Alternatives to Quiet Title Proceedings?

Depending on the specifics of each case, the length of time required to complete a quiet title action can vary considerably. The legal process to quiet title can take up to six months.

The procedure differs between states. The general procedure is as follows:

  • Obtain a copy of the deed, which will reveal any encumbrances on the property. This can be done at the office of your local county assessor;
  • Verify your understanding of what you own and why there may be a disagreement by examining the property’s documents to verify its exact boundaries and description.
  • File a complaint for an action to quiet title in the court that has jurisdiction in your area. Ensure that the complaint states the title owner’s claim to the property and the basis of the disagreement that warrants the quiet title action.
  • Include the name of any parties contesting the title and the reason for the contest; and
  • The complaint must include notice and be served on all persons participating in the action to quiet title.
  • Note that the court will only approve the property owner’s move to quiet title if the proof indicates that they are the true legal owner of the land. If so, the plaintiff may be able to secure a clean title. Nonetheless, if the court judges that other parties have legal title rights, they will transmit the good title to the property owner.

Any outcome will be documented with the county where the action took place. As a result, it will be a matter of public record, and additional disagreements may be avoided.

Resolutions to actions to quiet title often involve establishing free and clear ownership of a property and resolving any potential title defects discovered during a title search. Another option would clear outstanding liens caused by administrative errors, which are typical when the amount of transactions transferred for foreclosed homes increases. Quiet titles are likewise utilized to remedy concerns with quitclaim deeds, despite the fact that quitclaim deeds do not guarantee a clear title.

Should I Consult a Lawyer for Assistance with Quiet Title Matters?

Clearly, quiet title issues are complex and require a working understanding of several state laws for resolution. If you are involved in any quiet title concerns, you should consult with a local real estate attorney that is knowledgeable and competent. An expert attorney can assist you in determining if you have a claim and, if so, how to initiate legal action.

Real Estate Expert Witness Services by Craig Cherney, Esq.

Craig Cherney is a trusted client advisor and a sought after real estate expert witness who is hired by the nation’s top Real Estate Litigation Attorneys to help resolve their litigated real property matters.  Craig has appeared as a testifying expert witness before judges and juries in California, Arizona, Nevada and other jurisdictions across the country. Craig Cherney, Esq. Expert Witness Real Estate480-399-2342.

Disclaimer: This Post Is Not Legal Advice.

You should not ever depend on an online post for legal advice as the law and codes changes often, information sometimes might not be accurate, there can be exceptions to the rule, and wholesale reliance on such matters could be damaging. Always consult with experienced attorneys for current, effective, and factual legal advice.

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