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Quiet Title: Real Estate Disputes

A Quiet Title action is a lawsuit which is designed to establish a party’s legal rights to real property. These claims generally occur when there is a dispute between one or more persons about who owns a given piece of real estate. For instance, there could be a problem with the recording of a real estate deed, an easement that has gone unused for years, or abandonment.

Although quiet title actions can be friendly suits (“let’s just figure out ownership and ‘quiet’ all doubts”), they can become hostile. As such, in any properly filed quiet title lawsuit, every single person or entity who has an interest in the land must be given notice or named as a party in the suit. Because of the many interests that can attach to land — mortgages, contracts, judgments, leases, remainders, mechanic liens, restrictions (covenants), taxes, tax titles, adverse claims — a contested claim can be quite time-consuming.

A well-drafted Petition to quiet title will have to state the factual basis for the claim, as well as the legal underpinning(s) of the petition (e.g., adverse possession, etc.). It is also wise to  file a notice of lis pendens, which is essentially a notice to all third parties and prospective purchasers that the land is subject to litigation and liens. The reason for contemporaneously filing a lis pendens is that in the event the property is transferred or sold during the litigation, the transferee has no greater right than that possessed by the transferor at the time of the transfer, and the transferee would be bound by the judgment against the transferor.

Because of the sea of issues involved, it’s best not to handle a quiet title action alone.

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