What are the Five Most Common Questions We Get Asked About Quiet Title Suits?
We know that navigating through the labyrinth of real estate law can be a difficult process, especially when the notion of “quiet title suits” enters the fray. But have no fear! These lawsuits are designed to solve property disputes, lingering questions about ownership, and to ensure clear and marketable title.
This blog post will dissect five of the most common questions about quiet title suits, facilitating a smoother and more confident navigation through the intricate waters of real estate law.
- What is a Quiet Title Suit?
Think of a quiet title action as a method to resolve who owns a piece of property. This helps eliminate any “noise” or disputes, metaphorically “quieting” them.
A quiet title suit, or action to quiet title, is a lawsuit to settle and establish one party’s title to real property against anyone and everyone, and thus “quiet” any challenges or claims to the title. The action seeks to remove questions regarding the ownership of title (“clouds”), thereby ensuring a clear ownership for the individual or company filing the quiet title suit.
- When Should You File a Quiet Title Suit?
Quiet title actions are generally filed when there are disputes or uncertainties over a property’s title. Such circumstances can arise when a property passes from one individual to another (e.g., following a death, a sale, or a foreclosure), disputes over boundary lines, ambiguities in a property’s title history, or even if there’s a suspected error in the property’s paperwork on file with the recorder of deeds in that county.
These suits are also beneficial when dealing with properties purchased at a tax sale. In these cases, the buyer may need to file a quiet title action to eliminate any other possible interest holders in the property (for example, the previous owner who failed to pay property taxes). This should make the property’s title marketable and insurable, increasing the property’s value and making it easier to sell or finance the property in the future.
- How Does a Quiet Title Action Work?
The process for a quiet title action involves three basic steps. First, the person seeking clear title must file a petition or complaint in the appropriate court. This should identify the property in question and any potential adverse claimants. Prior to filing, your attorney will want to see a title report or informational title commitment to understand how the title insurance market views the current state of title, and s/he will also want to know from you the names and addresses (if you have them) of any potentially adverse claimants.
Second, once the lawsuit is filed, the potential adverse claimants must be notified. If they fail to respond within the specified time frame, the court may issue a default judgment, thereby granting clear title to the claimant. This is the most popular outcome when it comes to properties obtained via tax sale.
Third, if the defendants do respond, the case may proceed to trial where the claimant will need to prove their superior right to the title. If successful, the court will issue a judgment to quiet title, effectively confirming the claimant as the rightful owner and silencing other claims.
- How Long Does a Quiet Title Action Take?
The duration of a quiet title action can greatly vary depending on numerous factors, such as the complexity of the case, the court’s calendar, and whether the defendants choose to contest the lawsuit. Typically, if there’s no opposition, a quiet title action will take somewhere between 3 and 6 months to complete. However, if the action is contested, it could take well over a year. It’s crucial to consult with a real estate attorney to understand the expected timeline for your individual situation.
- Does a Quiet Title Suit Remove All Liens and Claims?
The quiet title action will resolve all known claims against the property. However, it is important to note that the judgment only addresses issues raised in the action. If there were undisclosed liens or claims at the time of the suit, or if there were claimants that you knew or should have known about who were not notified about the suit, they may still impact the property post-judgment. This is why title searches and title insurance are significant components of the property buying process, ensuring potential claims or liens are discovered and addressed.
A quiet title suit is a robust tool for establishing clear ownership and resolving disputes. The process is a complex one but we are happy to guide you through it.
If you are considering or already have purchased a property at a County Tax Sale, City Tax Sale, Trustee’s Sale or Sheriff’s Sale, or otherwise have a title issue we might be able to clear up with a Quiet Title action, please reach out to us and take advantage of the flat fee pricing we can usually offer in this area. Contact us today by clicking here, or by calling us directly at 314.862.2237 and letting us know you need a Quiet Title Lawsuit or want to discuss Purchasing Tax Sale Property.