What Is A Quiet Title Lawsuit?
When you purchase property, a complete title search will be done. That title search ensures that whoever is selling the property to you, actually owns the property, and thus, can legally transfer the title to you.
This is done by looking into a number of sources, but mostly through public records searches. The search will make sure that the property legally and fully went from A to B, from B to C, from C to D, and so on, until the property gets to whoever you are buying it from. This is called a chain of title.
Problems With Chain of Title
But sometimes, there is a problem with the chain of title. Somewhere in the chain, there can be issues, like unrecorded transfers that are not in the public records, or transfers of title that are forgeries. You may not realize that’s the case when you buy the property.
Now, you own the property legally, having paid your money, and someone else is saying “wait, that property is mine.” How does anybody decide who owns the property?
There may be two parties both who seemingly have a legitimate, valid claim to title in the property. Sometimes, there aren’t two parties making a claim to own the property, it’s just that the public records are unclear, or contradictory, and so it is hard to tell who actually owns the property.
Filing a Quiet Title Action
The only way to resolve the matter is through court action; a judge needs to make a determination of which deed is legal and which is not, or whether someone’s claim to title on the property overrides the other person’s claim, or whether a lien that shows up in the public records is valid and enforceable against the property. This requires that parties file what is known as a quiet title lawsuit.
Quiet title lawsuits ask the court to declare that your interest in property is superior to, and overrides, the claims of anybody else’s interest in property. Anybody who may have an interest in the property, needs to be sued to quiet title (that is, to settle title) in your name.
Types of Liens
You don’t always need to have an actual dispute, to file a quiet title action. For example, if there was a partially satisfied mortgage, or some other improperly filed cloud or encumbrance on title, a homeowner may need to sue for quiet title, even though there is no actual person or company that is objecting to the homeowner’s claim of title to the property.
Some liens can almost never be wiped out with a quiet title action. For example, a government tax lien will almost never be eliminated.
Even if you win the quiet title lawsuit, you still will need a title insurance company to accept the judgment. In most cases, with proof that you have a court order clearing all clouds on title, the title company will insure the property.
We can help you with any real estate law problems that you may have. Call a West Palm Beach real estate lawyer at The Law Offices of Larry E. Bray today.