Unless you are deeply involved in real estate, you may never have heard about the quiet title action. The quiet title can serve as a sure way to gain clear ownership over a property, to include not only the land but a home or building that may be located there, along with any outbuildings or even easements.
A quiet title action is simply defined as a legal procedure that seeks to “quiet” claims to the property, so that an owner is guaranteed a clear title. Understanding this process is quite imperative for real estate professionals, as it can be an incredibly effective way of establishing true ownership.
Normally, quiet title causes of action are between co-borrowers, co-owners or family members who disputed each other’s’ contributions and interests. In non-judicial foreclosure states, a quiet title action can be brought to challenge lenders and trustees who appear on a borrower’s deed of trust, but no longer have any interest or no longer exist.
While the quiet title action could be a positive way for you to attain title insurance for your property, eliminating any cloud in ownership, always have it in mind that the process could go the other direction if you are the one being blocked from ownership of a property. This may concern a piece of land that is being acquired by someone who wants to make sure there is no threat later and may view you as a potential threat.
Filing the quiet title action may be a pre-emptive tool; for instance, these actions are sometimes taken when a piece of property is acquired during an estate sale. But if you are on the other side as a possible heir who could move forward to challenge ownership and potentially cloud the title, the introduction of a quiet title action could be worrisome once you found out about it.
Quiet title actions are often required as routine measures too. Note that the mortgage company may require the buyer to file a quiet title action—but in most cases, any individual who might have had rights or thought they had rights to the property would probably received documents delivered by a process server notifying them.
However, if you are served documents related to a quiet title action on a property which you think you rightfully have the title to; it is very important to respond to the lawsuit within the allotted time listed in the paperwork. It is not advisable that you file a response on your own, as such an exercise is challenging unless you have legal experience.
Steps by Step Guide on How to Respond to a Quiet Title Action
Just like it was noted, the purpose of a quiet title action is to establish title of the property and determine who actually has legal interest in the property. A quiet title action may also resolve other existing issues between the parties and the property, and the court has the discretion to hear other motions of any party and require a resolution. However, if you get served with a Quiet Title Action, here are necessary steps to consider.
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Identify Your Right to Title
When you get served with a Quiet Title Action and someone is trying to claim ownership of a property that is yours, the law requires that you convince a judge that you have superior title. For example, you might have a deed in your name or a promissory note. Find your evidence and meet with an attorney for help building a case.
Draft a Counter Petition
After identifying your right to title, you will be expected to file a counter petition in court which should identify the parcel and provide background detail about the dispute. You should also refer to any claim being made by a different party.
Note that a petition needs to be in a certain form, so try to find a sample or get a blank form from the local court house, if one is available. You should also consult with an attorney if you need help. A suit to quiet title in the United States is high stakes, and you don’t want to make any mistakes that will affect your case.
File a Response in Court and Send Notice
Note that you will have to pay a filing fee when you take your petition to file. It is advisable to call the court clerk ahead of time and ask how much it costs. Also find out what methods of payment the court accepts. Once you file, you will need to serve a copy of the response and other paperwork on the other party to the dispute. Most state laws have strict rules for giving proper service, so make sure you understand them. An attorney can make sure you comply with the law.
Attend a Hearing
Indeed, each side can present evidence on their behalf at the hearing. Evidence can take many forms, including documents or witness testimony. Each side can also cross examine the other’s witnesses. Note that at the end of the hearing, the judge should make a decision. If you win, the judge will sign an order nullifying any other claims to the property. This will make you the sole, clear owner of the disputed property.
As noted, a quiet title action does not need any active disputes to be initiated. Instead, it is just a process to guarantee that ownership is free and clear for future homeowners. A plaintiff, buyer, or new homeowner will file an action, which will include anyone in the property’s present or past that may have a claim to it.
Note that the primary benefit of a quiet title action is that once a determination has been made in favour of the plaintiff, no challenge to their ownership can be made in the future. However, since conflicts in property ownership may lead to possible litigation, it is ideal to consult a property attorney.
An experienced attorney can examine your title, title search results and title insurance policy, to ensure that you are protected against possible clouds on title. Familiarity with quiet title actions is a must for real estate professionals who want homeowners to have peace of mind.