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Understanding Quiet Title Action

Last updated on: February 23, 2024

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 will explore this civil court action and provide some advice on using it. 

Understanding quiet title actions can be crucial when disputes arise over property ownership during real estate transactions. At The Matus Law Group, our skilled New Jersey real estate attorneys can guide you through the complexities of quiet title actions and easements in real estate, ensuring a smooth resolution to any disputes. Contact us at (732) 281-0060 today and let us assist you in safeguarding your property rights.

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. 

There are several situations that may necessitate the filing of a quiet title lawsuit:

  • Adverse possession: Commonly known as “squatters’ rights,” occurs when a trespasser occupies a property without authorization. If they continue to do so for a certain period, they may gain legal rights to the property through a quiet title action. Adverse possession can arise from honest mistakes or boundary disputes.
  • Break in the chain of title: The chain of title is a record that traces the historical ownership of a specific piece of real estate. Sometimes, the current ownership of a property might be unclear. Filing a quiet title suit can help clarify any title issues and establish rightful ownership.
  • Boundary disputes: In certain cases, quiet title suits are employed to resolve property line disputes rather than issues related to deeds or titles.
  • Easement: An easement grants another individual or entity the privilege to access a property for designated purposes, such as sharing a driveway.
  • Estate sale: When purchasing a property through an estate sale, there is a possibility of potential claims from family members of the previous owners. These claims may arise if the family members were not adequately informed about the sale and may assert their rights to the property.
  • Removal of lien holders: If you believe that a lien against your property is unwarranted, you can pursue a quiet title action. This legal action will require the lien holders to appear in court and defend their lien. If they fail to do so, the court may decide to remove the lien from your property.
  • Quitclaim deeds: Quitclaim deeds offer a quick way to transfer property interest, where the current owner relinquishes their claim to the property, facilitating an easy transfer to someone else. However, this process may not provide the buyer with proper protections, and other individuals may claim rights to the property, leading to a quiet title proceeding. To mitigate risks, title insurance should be considered.

Discovering the implications of a quiet title and how it can help you is crucial when resolving property disputes. If you’re facing uncertainty regarding property ownership or title issues in New Jersey, seek assistance from a proficient New Jersey real estate attorney from The Matus Law Group. Our team can assist in navigating complex legal procedures, granting you peace of mind and safeguarding your real estate interests. Contact us to schedule a consultation and let us help you resolve your quiet title action concerns effectively.

What is a Quiet Title Action?

A Quiet Title Action is a legal process used to resolve disputes or eliminate uncertainties over the ownership of a property. This type of lawsuit is essential when there are conflicting claims or any potential ambiguities affecting a property’s title, such as liens, claims, or encumbrances. Essentially, it’s used to “quiet” any challenges or claims against the title, providing a clear path for property sale, transfer, or mortgaging.

Typically, a Quiet Title Action is the definitive method to confirm legal ownership and safeguard one’s property rights. It becomes critical when there is a “cloud” on the title, which represents any issue that might impair the owner’s ability to deal with the property freely. This legal cloud creates risk and uncertainty, potentially depreciating the property’s value and complicating its sale.

To commence a Quiet Title Action, one must first verify that it’s the correct remedy for their situation. After obtaining the property deed, a real estate attorney, often in collaboration with a realtor, drafts and files a complaint in court. The claimant seeks judicial recognition as the sole property owner, challenging anyone else’s claims.

The court’s ruling, upon the success of the action, effectively silences any other claims. The duration of this process varies widely, from 30 days to over a year, depending on the case’s complexity and local court procedures.

It’s important to note that a Quiet Title Action might not resolve all title issues. In certain areas, it’s applicable only for specific claims or defects. Also, this action doesn’t always protect the new owner from problems with the property that arise from the previous owner, unless the property was acquired with a warranty deed and the issues were present at that time.

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. 

Reason for Quiet Title Action Description
Clearing up ownership claims after owner’s death Used to resolve disputes over the ownership of real estate or titled property when it’s unclear if all heirs were notified about the sale
Resolving issues with mortgage lenders Used when mortgage interests in the property were not appropriately dealt with after loan repayment
Clearance of title on long-unoccupied property Allows outside bidders to purchase the property when the title is unclear due to long periods of non-occupancy
Conveying title in cases of adverse possession Used to claim legal ownership of property when someone occupies it without permission or rightful claim

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!

Christine Matus

Christine Matus
Christine Matus

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