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Quiet Title

What is a quiet title?

Quiet title is a lawsuit filed with the purpose of establishing ownership of real estate when said ownership is in question. If the owner of a property wants a clear title—meaning there are no liens or levies against the title or any disputes over the property's ownership—he or she can move to claim quiet title.

Listed below are a few questions answered by real estate lawyers on quiet title related issues.

What does a quiet title claim mean?

A quiet title claim is a petition under which liens, encroachments, encumbrances, mortgage notes, or ownership (outside interests in other words), can be removed from being a part of the title. This would mean that if someone’s name is Mr. X, this name can be removed via a quiet title petition.

How soon before a foreclosure sale date must a quiet title claim be filed?

A quiet title does not have anything to do with foreclosure. But if there is something that is being contested, filing the claim immediately is a very sensible option.

Can I move to claim quiet title to property in this case?

Case Details: The bank failed to prosecute a foreclosure action and has not given the required paperwork to the court. 

You should be able to do this. It should force them to give the original paperwork and paper trail. If they do not, they will be at risk of losing their lien.

Can I file for a quiet title on a strip of property that adjoins mine that I have been crossing for 30 years now to reach my land?

Case Details: The private owner of the strip was a company that went out of business two decades ago andthere is no current owner in the county tax records.

It is not easy to do this but you can file for a quiet title action through the courts and attempt to serve the previous owner at their last known address. Then you can purchase advertisements in the local papers describing the suit and request the owner of the strip to contact you regarding the hearing. This is an important step and it is sensible to seek counsel before you do this so that it is done in the right way. If the owner does not contact you, the courts will probably consider you to be pursuing "reasonable efforts" in obtaining a response. As a result they might permit the suit to continue on.

How do I file a quiet title and what should I be expecting to pay an attorney for it?

A quiet title is a civil suit filed in civil district court. It’s a case that is generally concluded within a day with a legal cost amounting to a few thousand dollars.

In a quiet title action, the general rule is that the plaintiff can succeed based only on the strength of his own claim to the property and not based on the weakness of the respondent's claim. Thus, the plaintiff has to bear the burden of proving that he/she owns the title to the property. He/she could have less than a fee simple, or less than full ownership, and maintain an action to quiet title. Yet, as long as the plaintiff's interest is valid while the respondent's interest is not, the plaintiff can successfully remove the respondent's claim from the title to the property.

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