Understanding Quiet Title Action

Last updated on: October 11, 2022
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For many people, buying or selling a piece of real estate is the most complicated transaction they will ever be involved in. During this complex process, there will sometimes be questions or disputes concerning the rightful owner of the property. In these situations, it is occasionally necessary to initiate a lawsuit referred to as a “quiet title” action. This blog by the Matus Law Group will explore this civil court action and provide some advice on using it. 

What is a Quiet Title?

A quiet title is not a type of deed or title, but rather a lawsuit. It is used when there is a dispute over the title for a piece of property; it is designed to “quiet” claims to the property in question and decide who has ownership. You can also file for a quiet title action when there are breaks in the chain of ownership, such as when you purchase property in an estate sale. Boundary or easement disputes, surveying errors, and claims by lien holders often result in quiet title actions, as well. 

Many people consider a quiet title action to be the last resort for resolving disputes over property ownership. Sometimes, it is advisable to locate anyone who can help resolve the dispute. However, you should not hesitate to go to circuit court in order to protect your interests in a property. This should be done quickly after someone claims to have an ownership interest in the property you presume to own free-and-clear. 

The Use of Quiet Title Action

A Quiet Title Action is usually used for the following reasons: 

  • Clearing up any claims regarding the ownership of real estate or other titled property that follows the owner’s death, especially in cases where it is not clear whether all heirs were notified about the estate sale.
  • Resolving issues with mortgage lenders whose interests in the property were not appropriately dealt with following the repayment of the loan.
  • Clearance of title on a property which has not been occupied for some time. This allows outside bidders to purchase it.
  • Conveying title in the event of adverse possession, where a person occupies property that is not legally theirs to claim it.

Another reason for quiet title actions is to resolve tax issues in regards to property, boundary disputes among private parties, nations, states, municipalities, errors in surveying, fraudulent conveyance of a forged deed of the property, treaty disputes with nations, or other competing claims from lien holders, reverters, missing heirs or remainders.

In most cases, a quiet title action does not give the new owner as much protection as it does to the former owner. The new owner cannot sue previous owners if there are any problems. Quiet title actions may not always resolve all problems with a title. They can also be limited to specific claims and title defects in some jurisdictions.

Who Can Initiate a Quiet Title Action?

Anyone who feels they have a claim to a property can, generally, initiate a quiet title action. Parties who commonly file this type of lawsuit are those who inherit the property, contractors who purchase real estate after the lender foreclosed on it, and borrowers attempting to secure a mortgage.

Some quiet title actions are limited in scope, meaning they are only designed to clear up specific issues rather than broad ownership disputes. 

When you purchase or inherit a piece of real property, you shouldn’t have to jump through numerous hoops to prove that you have free-and-clear ownership over it. Occasionally, though, you will have to deal with unscrupulous or dishonest individuals who claim to have an interest in your property. When this happens, you should not hesitate to get with an experienced and knowledgeable real estate attorney to find out if the best course of action is to initiate a quiet title lawsuit. 

Contact a New Jersey Real Estate Attorney

If you are buying or selling real estate, contact us online or call our firm at (732) 281-0060 so we can help you figure out a solution to your legal issues. We can’t wait to meet with you!

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Christine Matus

Christine Matus

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