Also known as an action of quiet title, a quiet title action is a lawsuit—that is brought to establish or settle the title to a property. Clarifying ownership can be a complex and frustrating process. Real property lawyers can help you understand how a quiet title action works and represent your interests in a lawsuit.
Understanding a Quiet Title Action
When one party with an interest in a property files a claim against other parties who have a claim to an interest in the property, the purpose is to determine who is the legal owner of the property named in the lawsuit. When there is disagreement about a claim to title, the action is meant to “quiet,” or remove the objection and eliminate any ambiguities in the title.
If the plaintiff wins their case and a quiet title action is settled, they will own the property in perpetuity, as will their heirs. The plaintiff will also be protected from any further claims of ownership by other entities. Depending on the complexity of the case, a quiet title action can take anywhere from eight to ten weeks or longer.
Reasons for Filing a Quiet Title Action
There are multiple scenarios in which a quiet title action may be necessary, including:
To clear up claims on the ownership of titled real property, often after the death of the owner. This is particularly common when there are questions about whether all beneficiaries have been notified of the sale of an estate. A probate attorney or wills and trusts lawyer should be able to help you if title issues arise when settling an estate.
When a mortgage lender’s interest in the property was not properly resolved after a loan was paid off.
To clear the title of an unoccupied or abandoned property, which allows outside parties to make bids to purchase it.
The conveyance of an interest in a property via a quitclaim deed, in which the former owner denies interest, but does not guarantee that the title is clear.
To convey title to a property in a case of adverse possession, which is when a party occupies property that is not legally theirs for the purposes of laying claim to it.
A quiet title action may also be used to settle tax issues with a property; boundary disputes, surveying errors, and fraudulent conveyance of the property by coercion or forged deed.
Although a quiet title action can resolve these types of issues, it does not give the new owner the same level of protection as a warranty deed. For example, if there are problems with a house, the new owner may not be able to sue the previous owner if they acquired the property through a quiet title action. In addition, a quiet title action will not clear up all issues with a title in every case. In some instances, they can only resolve specific title defects or claims.
At Carosella & Associates, our experienced estate law attorneys can assess your circumstances, determine whether a quiet title action is appropriate, and provide the quality legal representation you need to resolve title issues.