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What is a Quiet Title Lawsuit?
Reasons to File It, Chain of Title & Limitations

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If you’ve got property and there’s a dispute about who the rightful owner is, you probably have to file a quiet title action. A quiet title suit can settle a dispute or fix a technical error in the property title.

Schmidt & Clark lawyers are experienced in quiet title actions. Today, we’ll use this expertise to explain everything there’s to know about this lawsuit.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • A quiet title lawsuit aims to settle the dispute about who’s the property owner.
  • There are several reasons for filing this action, such as settling the ownership dispute or fixing a technical error.
  • You need an experienced attorney to file the suit for you.

What is a Quiet Title Lawsuit?

Lawyer filling up forms You should be familiar with certain terms regarding quiet title action.

The title is a legal document that specifies what you own and your rights regarding a real property [1].

A quiet title is a record title that has all claims against it resolved, and the owner is decided in the eyes of the law.

But, if there’s more than one claim to the subject property, and these claims haven’t been legally dealt with, there’s a clouded title.

In this case, the quiet title applies only after the dispute about who has the legal right to the property.

Clear title is the opposite of the quiet title, and it applies to property when there are no ownership arguments. The clear title also happens after the quiet title, when title companies do property transactions. They do a title search to check who’s the rightful owner and if there are any claims against the property.

The legal description of a quiet title action or a lawsuit is legal proceedings that settle the dispute about who the owner of the property is. 

“A special legal proceeding to determine ownership of real property. A party with a claim of ownership to land can file an action to quiet title, which serves as a sort of lawsuit against anyone and everyone else who has a claim to the land. If the owner prevails in the quiet title action, no further challenges to the title can be brought.” Cornell Law Legal Information Institute

Quiet title lawsuits are also used to confirm the ownership interest or fix a title error. Quiet title action is a circuit court action or lawsuit, and it’s filed to establish who has the right to the legal title of a property. The end result of this suit is a court’s final judgment as to who owns the property.

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Chain of Title

Document sealing The chain of title happens each time one real estate moves from one owner to another. A new “link” is created. If the chain of title is disputed or broken due to an error in documents, or a technical error, a quiet title action is filed.

There are rules as to how the links are created to make sure the true real estate owner can be identified at any time. This is done via public records, and the purpose is to prevent false ownership claims.

The chain of title has to be intact and valid. Otherwise, title companies won’t give the title policy, and prospective buyers won’t buy the real estate.

Reasons to File a Quiet Title Lawsuit

Consulting a lawyer inside an office

There are several reasons why quiet title actions are filed:

  • Technical title defect — No one disputes the title ownership in this situation, but there’s a conveyancing error, i.e., a break in the chain of title. This makes the title records defective, so the owner can’t sell or refinance the property.
  • Ownership dispute — Quiet title action is a lawsuit with a plaintiff and a defendant. When you file this lawsuit, you’re suing someone for real property. The result aims to establish ownership, and usually, there aren’t any monetary damages. Some examples include:
    • To clear up title issues — Usually, after the owner’s death, there's a question if all the heirs were notified of the property sale.
    • To resolve issues with a mortgage lender — If the lender’s interest hasn’t been properly dealt with after paying off the loan.
    • Quitclaim deed — To clear the title when the previous owner disclaims interest but doesn’t clarify the title is clear [2].
    • Adverse possession — When one party occupies a property that’s not theirs but lays adverse claims to it, the action is filed to convey title to a property case.
    • To settle boundary issues.

Quiet Title Limitations

Writing limit on a notebookQuiet title action has some drawbacks, such as:

  • High legal expenses.
  • Some states don’t allow disputes that affect property title to go through a quiet title suit.
  • The action is subject to a statute of limitations in some jurisdictions.
  • Actions are subject to jurisdictional challenges, even years after the court’s final decree.

FAQ

Why Would Someone File a Quiet Title Lawsuit?

A person files this type of lawsuit to confirm or clarify who the owner of real property is or fix a technical error in the chain of title.

Get Help From Experienced Attorneys

There are several reasons for a quiet title suit, such as when a new owner wants to establish their title or a technical error in the chain of titles. You can get a title insurance policy to protect the interests of your property against legal defects. However, they aren’t foolproof. Your best bet is hiring a real estate attorney.

Schmidt & Clark lawyers are here for any legal advice you need. We value each attorney-client relationship and are ready to help you protect your interests.

Contact us for a free consultation.


References:

1.) https://www.rocketmortgage.com/learn/house-title

2.) https://www.investopedia.com/terms/q/quitclaimdeed.asp 

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