Real estate disputes can present themselves when we least expect it and come about for varying reasons. Whether you are attempting to navigate a boundary dispute or have discovered a lien against a property that shouldn’t be there, an experienced real estate attorney can help you manage the process effectively from start to finish.
What Is a Quiet Title Action?
Quiet title is an action lawsuit or legal proceeding meant to help clear title to real property and establish a person’s title to said property. Quiet title actions are usually between co-borrowers, co-owners, or family members who have disputed each other’s contributions and interests. Lenders and trustees appearing on a borrower’s deed of trust that either no longer have any interest or no longer exist can also be challenged. The overall purpose is to “quiet” any claims or challenges to that title, especially if there are multiple claims, disputed interest, or title defects.
A quiet title action can be used when possession needs to be recovered of a property that has been wrongfully occupied by another individual. A plaintiff, buyer, or new homeowner can choose to file an action to include any present or past owner of the property who may have a claim to it. Once a determination is made in favor of the filing individual, no challenge to their ownership can be made in the future.
There are many different types of real estate disputes, but one of the most common is a boundary dispute. This can occur in numerous situations. However, a great example is if a neighbor builds a fence on the wrong side of the property line or if a tree was planted on a neighbor’s property in the past and the owner of the property wishes to have the tree removed. Additionally, homes, garages, sheds, and other common structures that have been built on other property by mistake can all cause issues. There are several ways in which a boundary dispute can be put to rest, such as the party using the property choosing to purchase it from the owner or merely remedying the issue. A “prescriptive easement” can also be pursued, which means one person owns the land while another lawfully uses it – the party using the property gains ownership of it.
The term defective title is utilized when an asset or property has a mortgage, judgment, or lien against it, which means another party can lay claim to the asset or property. In the instance of a defective title, the property owner is prevented from legally transferring the title to another party or refinancing the property. An experienced real estate attorney is recommended if you need a lien removed or feel a lien was wrongfully placed on your property.
Why Are Quiet Title Actions Filed?
Processes and outcomes for your unique situation can vary depending on the circumstances. Getting a clean title on a property will eliminate any troubles for selling it in the future, as well as obtaining any financing information. Quiet title actions can be filed for multiple reasons. Still, overall, it is to establish clear ownership of a property and quiet anyone who may try to challenge the property’s ownership.
- Establish free-and-clear ownership of the property and resolve any defects found in a property title search
- Resolve any outstanding liens on the property due to administrative errors
- Resolve any issues with a quitclaim deed
Who Can File?
Each state varies in who can file for a quiet title action, meaning it is vital you familiarize yourself with your residing state’s guidelines. Some states only allow the lender who holds the mortgage to file while others require the current property owner to file. According to MN Stat § 559.01, any person in possession of real property personally or through the person’s tenant, or any other person having or claiming title to vacant or unoccupied real property, may bring an action against another who claims an estate or interest therein, or a lien thereon, adverse to the person bringing the action, for the purpose of determining such adverse claim and the rights of the parties respectively. There are a variety of parties that can file a quiet title action:
- Property owners (if not the plaintiff)
- Heirs of the deceased stray interest holder
- Any other unknown parties claiming an interest
- Other persons with interest in the property (holders of mortgages, judgments, easements, liens) in the event the court order must be binding on them
The Filing Process
Depending on the state you reside in, a quiet action title can take an average of 2 to 4 months to complete, but the process can take longer or shorter considering the factors surrounding the dispute, such as court rulings. The steps for pursuing a quiet action title vary by state, but a few applicable steps remain the same across the board.
- A copy of your deed must be obtained as this will show if there are any liens against the property in question. If a copy of your deed is not saved in your files, it is recommended to contact your county assessor’s office to get a copy.
- The civil court must be petitioned for a quiet title. The petition you submit must include a legal description of the property, including the address and parcel number, the adverse claims against the plaintiff’s title, and a request for granting the quiet title. Many courts provide a specific cover sheet to make the petition process simple, but you can draft your petition if not. A pleading should include when the property was purchased, the defendants, and other necessary information to prove why the defendant’s claimed interest is not legitimate.
Seek Guidance From a Skilled Real Estate Attorney Today
Conflicts in property ownership commonly lead to litigation, and the process is often very technical. You must seek guidance from an experienced real estate attorney, so you do not risk losing an interest in the land in question. Reviewing past client testimonials is an excellent way to determine the best real estate attorney for your case. The individual you choose for your case must have familiarity with quiet title actions, so you can have the peace of mind you have been hoping for and get the outcome you deserve.