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What is a Lawsuit for Quiet Title?


Despite their name, quiet title lawsuits have nothing to do with volume, or your disorderly neighbors. Rather, they involve something much more important—your ownership, or right to own, real property, and the resolution of disputes between people who own property.

Understanding Chain of Title

In its simplest terms, all property has a chain of title, which is recorded in the public records. Assuming everybody did everything right in the past, every home or piece of land should show, in the public records, that the property went from A to B to C to D to you as the buyer or owner.

In addition to ownership, the public records will also show liens and encumbrances. So, if there was a mortgage put on the property that was never paid off, and that mortgage still exists, that will show up in the public records  as well.

Mistakes do Happen

But sometimes, the public records aren’t so perfect. For example, we could buy property, and it turns out that someone else claims that they owned the property, and thus, that means that you never could have taken legal ownership of that property.

Filing a Lawsuit for Quiet Title

A quiet title lawsuit is a lawsuit to solve a dispute between two alleged owners, to see which actually has ownership of the property.

A quiet title lawsuit asks a court to both clarify who owns the property, and to determine the chain of title of property, as well as asking the court to clear up any confusion about ownership of property.

To claim quiet title, the party trying to quiet title in their name, would have to sue any other alleged owners or anybody else who has any interest in the property (including lienholders).

Note that you cannot just file a quiet title lawsuit to eliminate what would be an otherwise valid lien. So, for example, if you had a tax lien on property and the lien was valid and in the public records, you could not just file a quiet title lawsuit, hope the government doesn’t respond, and thus, wipe out the lien.

Some are Uncontested

Not every quiet title lawsuit is actually contested or challenged litigation.

For example, imagine there was a mortgage that you know was paid off in, say, 1992. But the public records don’t show the mortgage was paid off. You can’t go back to 1992 and have the lender file a satisfaction of mortgage. What you can do, is file a quiet title action, where you ask the court to declare that that old mortgage, is in fact paid off, and doesn’t present a cloud or an impediment to your full and complete ownership.

Because the mortgage was actually paid off way back then, nobody cares–nobody is going to challenge your lawsuit. But you need to file it anyway, to clear up the ambiguity or cloud on the chain of title.

Quiet title lawsuits sometimes are necessary so you can sell the property. A potential buyer will check the public records. If there is something there or not there that makes the buyer believe that you don’t actually legally own the property, or else that there is a lien on it, the buyer won’t buy that property. So, to have a good, marketable (and insurable) title, you may have to file a quiet title lawsuit before you sell the property.

Your business may own property and that property can lead to lawsuits. We can help. Call the West Palm Beach business litigation attorneys at Pike & Lustig today.




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