An action for quiet title is a lawsuit filed by a plaintiff to establish ownership of real property. The plaintiff files an action for quiet title in order to obtain a court order that prevents anyone else from laying claim to the property. Quiet title actions seek to “quiet” claims to the property by others so the owner is guaranteed clear title.
Why Would it Be Beneficial to Establish Title to Property?
In property law, title gives a party either legal or equitable interest in a piece of real property. In real estate, past ownership disputes and clouded title can make the transfer of real property difficult. When purchasing a property, you will want to obtain title insurance. Obtaining title insurance on a property that does not have clear title will be difficult.
Before a property transfers hands, a title report will be pulled on the property. A title report shows whether there are any clouds to title. Clouded titles can be costly and time-consuming to clear. A quiet title lawsuit can make sure any title issues, including ownership disputes or recording errors, are corrected. In that regard, a quiet title action ensures that other people who claim an ownership interest in the property won’t contest the sale of the property.
Most common claims for quiet title are typically brought when:
- there is a dispute regarding a mortgage or lien on the property,
- there is a boundary dispute,
- or someone used an easement on your property without the easement ever being recorded on the deed of property.
Who Can File a Quiet Title Action?
Every state has different laws regarding quiet title actions. In general, most states require that the person filing a claim for quiet title be in possession of the real property at the time of filing. If there is a mortgage on the property, some states require the mortgagee or lender file the quiet title action.
Steps for Taking Quiet Title
Steps for taking quiet title varies from state to state. In general, here are the applicable steps.
First, you want to obtain a copy of your deed. If you don’t have a copy saved in your personal files, check out your county assessor’s office for a copy. A copy of your deed will show if there are any liens against the property.
Second, you need to petition the civil court for quiet title. Your petition needs to include a legal description of the property (address and parcel number), the adverse claims against plaintiff’s title (such as an easement), and a request for granting quiet title. Some courts have a specific cover sheet to “fill in the blank” for your quiet title action. If your court does not, you can draft your own petition. Your pleading should include when you purchased the property, the defendants, and other relevant facts such as why the defendant’s claimed interest isn’t legitimate.
Resolutions to Quiet Title Action
One files an action for quiet title to establish free-and-clear ownership of a property and to resolve any potential defects found from a title search. Quiet title also clear outstanding liens from administrative errors. This is common when real estate markets crash and foreclosed properties increase due to the volume of transactions transferred due to foreclosure. Quiet titles are also used to resolve issues with quitclaim deeds. Quitclaim deeds don’t guarantee clear title.
Why Would a Lawyer Be Helpful?
Filing an action for quiet title is not easy and not always straightforward. A skilled attorney who specializes in real estate will know exactly what needs to be done to clear any title defects.