What Is a Quiet Title?

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“There can be a dispute over the ownership of a property when more than one party claims it. Quiet title actions determine which party holds a property’s lawful right.”

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What Is a Quiet Title?

If your property’s title conflicts, this may be the best action. When you sell or transfer your home during probate, you want the title to be clean to protect it from a potential owner who might claim ownership. This is a guide on what is quiet title and why you may want to file it when you sell your home.


Precisely what does Quiet Title mean?

Quiet title suits aim to resolve ownership disputes, correct title errors, or confirm ownership rights. A quiet title lawsuit results in the court approving property ownership. A quiet title fixer is a court order that clarifies or confirms who owns the property.

The “chain of title” to real property constantly grows as property changes hands. Quiet title suits may be necessary when there is a dispute over a chain of titles or a chain breaks because of an error in conveyance.

To create a new link, strict criteria must meet. Which ensures that the valid property owner can be identified by examining public records at any time.

For a private property rights system to function effectively, absolute property ownership must be stable and confident. Title companies and buyers can only buy a property with little doubt or confusion over ownership. In other words, the chain of title must be intact to prevent them from issuing title policies.


An Understanding of Quiet Title Actions

To determine the rightful legal owner of a property in question, a quiet title action is brought by one or more property claimants in a court of law. By clearing up any ambiguities in the title, it will ease conflicting claims on the property and clarify the legal ownership question.

As a result of the quiet title action, the plaintiff will have full possession and title to the property throughout their life and the plaintiff’s heirs. They will also benefit from any subsequent claims of ownership made by other entities against the property.


Process of Quiet Title Action

First, you must determine whether a quiet title action is appropriate. The county clerk or records office can provide you with a copy of the deed. Prepare the quiet title action complaint with the assistance of a real estate attorney and file it in the appropriate court.

A quiet title action involves suing all parties who claim to own the property against those who claim to have a stake in it on behalf of the party asserting ownership. The judge will then determine whether the case is booming, and if so, they will issue a judgment. As soon as the quiet title action is over and the purported owner has won, there can be no further challenges to the title.

Depending on the complexity of the claim, the state, and the backlog of the court, it may take 30 days to more than a year.


When We Need A Quiet Title Action?

Title disputes may arise for a wide range of reasons, including:


Estate sales:

Purchasing a property at an estate sale can lead to a dispute over title if the seller’s family disputes the sale.


Removing lienholders:

Quiet title actions can help you air your case in court if you believe a lien on your property is unwarranted. In a similar suit, any lienholder must explain their lien to the court. The lien will disappear if they fail to appear or decide in your favor.


Breaks in the chain of title:

It identifies each owner and the dates when the title changed to the next owner. Chains of title usually show continuous ownership, even if multiple owners have owned the property at different times. You can, however, file a quiet title action to bring the matter to court if there was a period when it was unclear who owned the property. For you to receive the quiet title, the defendants must respond to the lawsuit by the deadline.


Quit claim deeds:

When a property owner gives a quit claim deed, they relinquish their legal rights. For instance, many families use quit claim deeds to transfer property to another family member.

Despite its importance, a quit claim deed does not protect in case someone else claims the property. It is possible to file a quiet title action to clear up any ambiguity if this occurs. The best way to protect yourself from loss is to purchase title insurance if you receive property through a quit claim deed.


Adverse possession, aka “squatter’s rights”:

When your property occupies without your permission, it is called adverse possession, also called squatter’s rights. These squatters can claim ownership of the property if they occupy it for a specified time, which varies from state to state. In California, a settler may claim property ownership after occupying it for five years or 18 years, respectively.


Easement and boundary disputes:

Other title disputes, such as access to your property and legal boundaries, can be resolved through quiet title actions. If you share a driveway or someone must drive across your land to reach their home, for example, they may claim access to your property.

Even if you don’t have a written agreement, they can claim a right to continue using your property for a specific purpose if they have a longstanding custom. Moreover, a quiet title action can settle a dispute over property lines between neighbors.


Is There A Reason Why A Property Owner Would Seek Quiet Title?


Is There A Reason Why A Property Owner Would Seek Quiet Title?


Two main reasons exist for bringing a quiet title action:

  1. Technical Title Defect. While there is no dispute over the actual owner, the title records are defective due to convincing errors, making it challenging to sell or refinance the property. There is a way to resolve the title defect with a quiet title.
  2. Actual Ownership Dispute. At least two parties claim ownership when there is a genuine dispute over who owns real estate. A quiet title can resolve this conflict.


Fixing a technical title defect with a quiet title.


How do we define “technical title defect”?

There’s nothing wrong with ownership, but a break in the chain of title obstructs the sale or refinance of a property.

An attorney for the developer would describe all of his title defects in a quiet title suit, likely resolving all of the developer’s title problems at once. Using a court order declaring the developer is now the rightful owner of the family farm, he would ask the judge to cure these defects.

An Order entered into the county’s property records would link the chain of title once the judge’s final order goes into effect. The buyer’s title company would likely locate the quiet title Order in the public records if the developer sells the Family Farm in the future, confirming that the developer is the rightful owner.


To settle a dispute over ownership.

Quiet title actions can resolve actual ownership disputes, even though they are usually used to correct technical title defects without conflict. In a quiet title action, you are suing someone.

A step for a quiet title involves suing somebody. However, quiet title lawsuits are primarily based on claims of property ownership and rarely include claims for payment of money.

Anybody with an ownership interest in the subject property is considered a defendant in a quiet title lawsuit. Potential claimants receive notice when the lawsuit is filed and have the opportunity to assert their interest. The owners lose their right to maintain their interest if they fail to declare it, and their claim of ownership will never be valid. However, if they assert their interest, a lawsuit may follow for request.

It is, therefore, important that a quiet title attorney explain the lawsuit in a way that minimizes the likelihood of a dispute. However, if a dispute arises, a judge will decide whether or not the rightful owner owns the property after hearing evidence.


What Is the Process for Filing a Quiet Title Action?

It is necessary to file a quiet claim action in a court of law to assert ownership over all other claimants. The process and timeline vary by state, but typically the process takes eight to twelve weeks and involves four steps:


Obtain a copy of the deed.

Obtain a copy of the deed from your local county recorder’s office to prove the title has come to you.


Identify who owns and possesses the title to the property.

To identify the current status of the property ownership, you’ll need to do some research precisely to determine the current state of the right. A judge will only grant a quiet title action if you have evidence proving you’re the legal owner.

There is usually an online tool for finding county land records, but using the services of a title company may save you time and simplify the process. Your title company can provide you with a title commitment or requirement, explaining any issues with the title and what needs to happen to fix them.

It typically costs $100 to get a basic title report. The title company will provide you with a comprehensive title commitment and insurance policy for about $600 to $1,200.


Complaint for Quiet Title

You are the plaintiff if you file a lawsuit to claim property ownership. Defendants are any other parties asserting ownership claims of their own.

If the other parties in the suit did not receive legal notice as required by your state law, any court order would not be binding. If you do not include the names of other parties, the suit will not be valid. In most states, the service of process can take place by private process servers or certified mail, so make sure you follow your state’s rules.


Receive a final judgment.

You and the defendants will argue during the court proceeding, and the judge will issue a final judgment. If the judge finds the property rights in your favor, any future claims against ownership will be barred.

If the judge believes the defendants have more evidence to support their ownership claim, the property rights could transfer to them. By not responding by the required deadline after they have received the lawsuit, you may be able to win a default judgment against the defendant.


What is the importance of Quiet Title?

Regarding real estate transactions, it is necessary to establish legal ownership. There may be a claim against the property or a legal defect in the deeds that lead to the process.

A title company searches for title deeds, verifies them, and checks for claims on properties. Title insurance is also an option for some owners to protect their properties from defects in the title.


Factors to Consider

It is not uncommon for a new owner to not receive the same level of protection from the previous owner as a quiet title action. It is only possible for the new owner to sue the last owner if the property has problems if they purchased it via warranty deed and sued for defects upon receipt of the act.

Moreover, quiet title actions don’t always resolve all issues with a title. Using them in some jurisdictions to determine specific claims or defects may only be possible.




Quitting a title means what?

The process of quitting a title involves removing competing claims to the title of a real estate property.


What Is the Cost of a Quiet Title Suit?

According to the complexity of the claim and the state in which the action takes place, quiet title actions typically cost $1,500 to $5,000.


What Is the Best Way to Fight a Quiet Title Action?

Defend yourself against a quiet title action by producing a deed and other evidence that your claim is invalid or mistaken if you find yourself facing such action. You will often have to attend a legal hearing to defend your title, so hiring a knowledgeable and skilled attorney to help you is a good idea.


The Bottom Line

A quiet title action may help establish your rightful ownership of the property, whether proving your ownership versus squatters, disputing property lines with neighbors, or buying a property with the clouded title.

In some cases, real estate lawyers may be necessary, depending on the risks involved in filing a quiet title action in your area.

Hedy Ghavidel

HEDY GHAVIDEL Managing Attorney  Roseville Office  1-866-471-6981  info@attorneysre.com Bio...

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