When the owner of a piece of real estate has a quiet title, it means that all disputes over that property have been resolved in court. Claims to the property have been “quieted” by a judge’s ruling, and the title is now clear, allowing the owner to sell or refinance it. A quiet title action refers to a lawsuit that results in a clear (quiet) title.
Considerations Before Filing a Quiet Title Action
Quiet title actions may be necessary for conducting business with a property you own, but they are highly complex. As you consider filing a quiet title action, it’s wise to consider the following advice.
Have the Right Expectations
You must realize that quiet title actions are equitable. Consequently, a judge will decide your case instead of a jury, and there will be no monetary compensation.
In addition, expect that your quiet title case will take at least two to three months to resolve. Quiet title cases go through a phased process, and each phase can take days or weeks to complete depending on how many defendants are involved and whether any contest the claim.
You must also know that resolving quiet title actions comes with a cost. Contested or mistake-ridden cases can jeopardize or prolong the process, making it even costlier.
Finally, realize that you may have several defendants in your case, all with different disputes. You need to ensure you are prepared to face them all in court.
Conduct Proper Research
You can only resolve some issues through a quiet title action. Ensure you have a valid reason for filing a quiet title action, such as an easement or property boundary dispute, break in the chain of title, adverse possession, or lienholder removal.
Also, make sure to correctly evaluate the statute of limitations based on the underlying theory of relief. How long you have to file your claim is based on the cause of your action, such as fraud or adverse possession. Special rules determine when the period of limitation began, so you’ll want to verify that you are still eligible to file.
If you are eligible to file a claim, obtain a copy of the title report to find out what property defects might be clouding your title. You can get this information on your own from the county clerk’s office.
Alternatively, a real estate attorney can both obtain and interpret the report for you. The information in the title report will help you verify the validity of your claims and give you the best chance of a favorable judgment.
Follow the Required Process
Quiet title actions follow a strict process. First, you’ll obtain and comb through title records to find the reasons behind each defect on the title and what you need to do to cure it.
You then must draft a quiet title petition that clearly articulates the path of ownership and proves that you are the legal owner of the property. You may also need to file this petition with ancillary pleadings.
File a notice of pendency to inform possible defendants that you intend to file a quiet claim. This notice binds all involved parties to the outcome of the case. Once you file your quiet title action, it’s essential to track your case closely, filing proper motions and affidavits throughout the process.
Take the Next Step with a Real Estate Attorney
From complaint verification to filing a notice of pendency to enforcing the outcome of your case, every step in a quiet title action requires strict compliance. Even small mistakes can lead a judge to strike your complaint, endangering your property rights and wasting precious resources.
Call Levy Goldenberg LLP to discuss your quiet title action case. A New York City-based real estate attorney from our office will review your case, determine whether you have grounds for a claim, and help you take the next step to clear your property title.