Quiet Title Actions to Protect Your Real Estate Interests
Imagine that you have found the perfect property to purchase and are advised that there is a “cloud” on the title. Or, you may have just received notice that another person is claiming ownership of your land. These are examples of situations where real estate litigation may be required in order to clear a title or to establish the rightful owner of land. These lawsuits are called Quiet Title Actions.
Challenges and claims regarding property ownership and clear title can occur for many different reasons in residential or commercial properties. It can be the result of a break in the chain or defect of title when the ownership had changed, such as a clerical error in the recording of a property deed in the clerk’s office of a municipality, or surveying errors, easement issues, or owed back taxes. It can be an outright dispute between neighbors over property lines, a forged deed, or a deed transferred under coercion or adverse possession. Adverse possession occurs when a person claims ownership of the property that they have inhabited for a number of years while the property is titled to another.
A Quiet Title Action is the appropriate legal proceeding to resolve the issues that may prevent the sale of a property, prevent obtaining a mortgage, or settling a land dispute, as it establishes legal ownership. There are no monetary awards in a Quiet Title Action, as its purpose is simply to repair non-adversarial title defects or owner disputes resulting in a clear title. A Quiet Title Action is a civil lawsuit that is filed in Circuit Court by the person or business that initiates the lawsuit, to establish valid ownership of the property or to eliminate any encumbrances associated with the title.
A cloud on a title is generally discovered during a title search, which is part of the loan origination process of qualifying for a mortgage. There can be unresolved issues, such as a foreclosure on the property, which may have tax liens, mechanic’s liens, or probate issues. While a probate proceeding is in process with heirs challenging the rightful inheritance and beneficiary of a property, a conveyance of the deed would be invalid.
Quitclaim deeds, also called non-warranty deeds, are simple real estate legal documents that can be used to transfer property rights or to repair defects on the deed. It is important to accept a quitclaim deed only from persons that you trust, as these are best used for low risk transactions. While a quitclaim deed can clear a title defect or transfer a deed, it offers no protection or recourse to the new owner regarding the quality of the title. For example, it does not warranty the seller is the correct owner or that the property is free of mortgages, liens, or other encumbrances.
Consult with Our Experienced Commercial and Residential Real Estate Attorneys
The Law Office of Taylor and Nordman, P.A. is a valuable resource for our clients with issues that may arise in real estate matters. Richard W. Taylor and Michael P. Nordman are both Board Certified in real estate law by the Florida Bar. They have strong roots in Volusia County, Florida and are committed to protecting the rights of their clients. They are knowledgeable regarding Quiet Title Actions and they will seek creative solutions to make your property marketable and free from encumbrances. Call our office today at (386) 734-2558.