What is a Quiet Title Lawsuit or Action?

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New Castle, PA

Practice Areas: Probate

 

A Quiet Title Lawsuit is known under common law as a suit in equity and is filed for the purpose of establishing the rightful owner of a piece of real property such as a parcel of land or a home.  The need to file a quiet title lawsuit results from situations where there are multiple parties who are claiming rightful ownership of the same piece of land or the same house.

Quiet title lawsuits can arise from conflicts between parties that are part of the same family or between parties who claim ownership in situation where a deed has be improperly or incompletely recorded with the registry of deeds or other land registration office.  Quiet title lawsuits are also common when a party that purchased a parcel of property at a tax sale, sheriff’s sale or judicial sale attempts to resell the parcel.

When a quiet title lawsuit is filed in a court that has jurisdiction to hear the case, the outcome will determine the party who will be established as the rightful owner, and will terminate, or quiet, the claims of ownership from all other parties. 

Under What Circumstances Are Quiet Title Lawsuits Filed?

Quiet title lawsuits are filed where there is a legitimate claim of ownership by multiple parties to one piece of land.  The need to file such a lawsuit occurs when the previous owner has either improperly or incompletely conveyed a piece of land by including things such as restrictions on alienation (transferability of the property) or easements on the land.

A quiet title lawsuit is appropriate in situations where there is not a proper recording or registration method in use to establish rightful ownership.  Quiet title lawsuits are also appropriate following a tax sale, sheriff’s sale or judicial sale so that the purchasing party, the new owner, knows with absolute certainty that no other parties may ever seek to reclaim the purchased property or impede a sale, modification or transfer in the future.

Every state has different rules and laws when it comes to establishing ownership, notice and recording requirements, but suffice to say that if a registry of deeds has records on file for a particular parcel, it is unlikely that a quiet title lawsuit will be fruitful unless there exists a disruption or discrepancy in the chain of title.  For the most part, the registration and recording system has taken away to need for quiet title lawsuits and judicial determinations of rightful ownership.

Can a Quiet Title Lawsuit Remove Liens on Property?

If the owner of a piece of property is unsuccessful in efforts to have deficiencies such as liens or other encumbrances removed from the title record, filing a quiet title lawsuit may help the owner to get the relief they are looking for.  A quiet title lawsuit has the ability for an owner to provide evidence that proves rightful ownership and shows satisfaction of any liens, such as a mechanics lien, mortgage or other lien judgment assessed against the value of the property.  Quiet titles can remove all encumbrances, or clouds to title, that potentially disrupt the sale of property.

Getting Legal Advice Regarding Real Estate Suits

A real estate attorney is essential to a party considering filing a quiet title lawsuit.  In addition to the fact that the filing and arbitrating of the case requires the expertise of an attorney, an experienced lawyer is critical to craft winning arguments and father essential data and documents.  Since the property laws of every jurisdiction differ, it is very important to seek the assistance of an attorney who is experienced in the state or land court where the case will be litigated.

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