Every buyer works hard to own their property, whether it’s a beach house or their primary residence. As a result, you understand the monetary and emotional value of your property. However, ownership has its drawbacks, especially when it is challenged. A quiet title proceeding is a legal proceeding in which the courts determine who has property rights in a dispute. So here’s how to be successful in a quiet title action, who can file one, and how to respond to one.
What Is a Quiet Title
A quiet title action is a circuit court action—or lawsuit—filed with the intent of establishing or settling a property title. Quiet title actions are common when there is a dispute over the title and the lawsuit is intended to remove, or “quiet,” a claim or objection to the title.
Understanding a Quiet Title Action
A quiet title action occurs when one property claimant sues one or more other people in court to determine who is the true legal owner of the property in question. Its purpose is to resolve competing claims to the property by removing any ambiguities in the title, thereby clarifying the issue of legal ownership.
Following the quiet title action, the plaintiff and his heirs will have perpetual possession of the property, and they will be protected from any further claims of ownership made against the property by other outside entities.
Why Would it Be Beneficial to Establish Title to Property?
According to property law, a title grants a party either a legal or equitable interest in real property. Past ownership disputes, as well as a clouded title, can make the transfer of real estate more difficult. Another reason why establishing title to the property is beneficial is that when purchasing a property, you should obtain title insurance. Obtaining title insurance on a property with a clouded title, on the other hand, is significantly more difficult.
Establishing property title is also advantageous early in the process. A title report will show whether there are any clouds on the title before transferring ownership, which can be costly and time-consuming to clear. A quiet title lawsuit can ensure that any title issues, such as ownership disputes or incorrect recording, are resolved. This would also ensure that other parties who claim an ownership interest in the property do not contest the property’s sale.
Some of the most common claims for the quiet title include, but will be discussed further below:
- A disagreement over a mortgage or lien on real estate.
- A boundary dispute exists
- Someone used an easement on the property without it ever being recorded on the property’s deed.
Simply put, establishing title to the property is advantageous because it makes future purchases and sales much easier. It provides clarity in situations where there is no established property title.
How to Be Successful In a Quiet Title Action
The length of time it takes for a title action to be successful will vary greatly depending on the specific circumstances of each case. The title action legal process can take up to six months to complete.
The procedure differs from one state to the next. The general procedure is as follows:
- Obtain a copy of the deed, which will reveal any liens on the property. This can be done at the county assessor’s office in your area.
- Examine records to determine the exact boundaries and description of the property in question, so you know what you own and why there might be a dispute.
- File a complaint in the appropriate court in your jurisdiction for an action to quiet title. You should make certain that the complaint describes both the title owner’s claim to the property and the nature of the dispute that necessitated the quiet title action.
- Include the names and reasons for any parties disputing the title.
- The complaint should be served and provide notice to all parties involved in the quiet title action.
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It is important to note that the court will only grant the property owner’s title action if evidence shows that they are the legal owner of the property. If this is the case, the party who filed the suit may obtain a clear title. However, if the court determines that other parties have a legal right to the title, the good title will be transferred to the property party.
Any outcome will be recorded by the county in which the action takes place. As a result, it will become a public record, potentially avoiding further disputes.
Quiet titles are generally resolved by establishing free and clear ownership of a property and resolving any potential defects discovered during the title search. Another resolution would be to remove outstanding liens caused by administrative errors, which are common when the number of foreclosed properties increases due to the volume of transactions transferred as a result of a foreclosure. Quiet titles are also used to resolve issues with quitclaim deeds, even though quitclaim deeds do not guarantee a clear title.
Reasons For A Suit To Quiet Title
When there is a dispute over ownership, a suit to quiet title may be filed for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common reasons are as follows:
When a trespasser occupies your property, you have adverse possession, also known as “squatters’ rights.” They can eventually gain a legal right to it through quiet titles if they do this long enough. Sometimes it’s a genuine error, and other times it’s a type of boundary dispute.
Break in the title chain:
The chain of title is the complete historical record of a property’s ownership. In some cases, you may not know who currently owns a property you are interested in. To ensure that there are no title issues, you can file a quiet title suit.
Disputes over boundaries:
Some title suits do not involve deeds or titles. They are instead used to settle property line disputes.
An easement grants another person or entity access to a property. This is usually done for a specific reason, such as sharing a driveway.
Assume you purchase a home at an estate sale. If the previous owners’ family members were not properly notified, they may claim a right to the property.
Removal of lienholders:
You may believe that a lien on your property is invalid. A quiet action can compel lien holders to defend their lien in court. If they do not, the court will remove it.
Quitclaim deeds are one method for quickly transferring ownership of a property. The owner simply disclaims interest in the property, allowing them to easily transfer it to someone else. This is a common tool among family members. However, it offers no protection to the buyer. Other people’s claims to the property may result in quiet title proceedings. Because there are significant risks, you should think about getting title insurance.
Who Is Entitled to File a Quiet Title Action?
To recap, a quiet title action is brought by a title holder when their claim to the title is challenged by someone else. This other party also claims ownership of the title and property. The quiet title process settles the disputing party’s claim, allowing them to reclaim their dispute-free title. While the title owner hopes to resolve the dispute, the court will determine who the actual property owner is based on a variety of factors. As a result, either party could be granted title to the property.
Each state has its own laws governing quiet title actions, as well as eligibility requirements for filing quiet titles. In general, most states require the person filing a claim for quiet title to own the real property at the time of filing. If the property is subject to a mortgage, some states require the mortgagee or lender to file a quiet title action. An area attorney will be best suited to explain what is required to file a quiet title action.
How To Respond To a Quiet Title Action
With the assistance of a real estate attorney, you will file a quiet title action. One thing to keep in mind is that you must have the standing to file a suit as the plaintiff. This is usually established by establishing ownership of the property. The paperwork and procedures required will also differ from state to state.
The Average Cost Of A Quiet Title Action Suit
One of the most important aspects of a quiet title action suit is that it involves establishing the property’s ownership history to help determine who the proper owner of the property is now. According to online estimates, the typical range appears to be $1,500–$5,000. However, if ownership of the property is contested in court, the price tag can be much higher.
The Shortcomings of Quiet Title Actions
There are some disadvantages to actions. Aside from the potentially high legal fees, some states do not allow every dispute that may affect the title to be resolved through a quiet title proceeding. Before proceeding, ensure that you can accomplish what you set out to do with action to quiet titles in your jurisdiction.
Quiet title actions are a way to protect your property from third-party claims. One thing you can be certain of is that your claim is solid. A judge may rule in favor of the defendants if they present a compelling case. You’d like to work with a real estate lawyer. One of the most common flaws is that not everything can be resolved through a quiet title proceeding. Furthermore, it can be quite costly.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you fight quiet title?
You could file a title proceeding to have the lien removed. Quitclaim deeds: A quitclaim deed allows someone to give you ownership of their property simply by renouncing their claim to it.
What is the statute of limitations for quiet title in California?
When the claim was based on adverse possession, the time limit was five years. When the claim is based on the cancellation of an instrument, the time limit is four years. 3 years if the claim is based on fraud or error.
How much does a quiet title cost in Utah?
For an uncontested lawsuit, the cost of a quiet title action ranges from $1,500 to $5,000. Quiet title actions that are contested (or litigated) can cost significantly more.
How do I file a quiet title in Tennessee?
In Tennessee, lawsuits to the title are filed in the Chancery Court of the county in which the property is located by filing a complaint to quiet title.
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