- Quiet title
An action to quiet title is a
lawsuitbrought in a courthaving jurisdictionover land disputes, in order to establish a party's title to real propertyagainst anyone and everyone, and thus "quiet" any challenges or claims to the title.
This legal action is "brought to remove a cloud on the title so that plaintiff and those in
privitywith her may forever be free of claims against the property. [Ballentine's Law Dictionary, p. 452.]
This lawsuit is also sometimes called a Try title, trepass to try title, or
Ejectmentaction "to recover possession of land wrongfully occupied by a defendant." [ [http://www.answers.com/topic/trespass-to-try-title?cat=biz-fin Answers.com] ] However, there are slight differences. In an ejectment action, it is typically done to remove a tenantor lesseein an evictionaction, or an eviction after a foreclosure. Fact|date=August 2007 Nonetheless, in some states, all terms are used synonymously.
Grounds for a quiet title action or complaint
It comprises a complaint that the ownership (title) of a parcel of land or other real property is defective in some fashion, typically where title to the property is ambiguousndash for example, where it has been conveyed by a
quitclaim deedthrough which the previous owner disclaims all interest, but does not promise that good title is conveyed. Such an action may also be brought to dispel a restraint on alienationor another party's claim of a nonpossessory interest in land, such as an easementby prescription.
Other typical grounds for complaint include:
adverse possessionwhere the new possessor sues to obtain title in his or her own name;
fraudulent conveyanceof a property, perhaps by a forged deed or under coercion;
Torrens titleregistration, an action which terminates all unrecorded claims;
treatydisputes regarding the boundaries between nations;
tax takingissues, where a municipality claims title in lieu of back taxes owed (or a subsequent purchaser of land at a tax sale files action to gain insurable title);
*boundary disputes between states, municipalities, or private parties;
* competing claims by
reverters, remainders, missing heirsand lien holders (often arising in basic foreclosure actions when satisfied liens are not properly discharged from title due to clerical or recording errors between the county clerk and the satisfied lien holder)
Unlike acquisition through a
deedof sale, a quiet title action will give the party seeking such relief no cause of actionagainst previous owners of the property, unless the plaintiff in the quiet title action acquired its interest through a warranty deed and had to bring the action to settle defects that existed when the warranty deed was delivered.
One has to be careful about talking about quiet title actions in the context of registration systems. Quiet title actions really have no applicability where a registration system is in place, having been wholly replaced by the registration statutes. Quiet title actions derive in
common lawjurisdictions from a common law equitablecause of action by the same name. In many jurisdictions they have been supplemented or replaced by a statutory cause of action, which may or may not have the same legal elements of the common law action. Where dealing with statutory quiet title it is more appropriate to talk about "actions in the nature of quiet title".
Quiet title actions do not “clear title” "completely". They are actions for the purpose of clearing a "particular, known" claim, title defect, or perceived defect. Contrast title registration which settles all title issues, both known and unknown. Quiet title actions are always subject to attack and are particularly vulnerable to jurisdictional challenges, both subject matter and personal, even years after final court decree in the action. It usually takes 3-6 months depending on the state where it is done.
A quiet title action is also subject in many a
Geographic Jurisdiction, to a Statute of Limitations. This "limitations of action" is often 10 or 20 years. Fact|date=May 2007
Quiet title in popular culture
In the novel "Red Sky at Morning", Richard Bradford discusses how the family's real estate had "histories of counterclaims, suits to "quiet title" which never seems to work, liens.... A good lawyer who paced himself could make a land sale last for ten years and send his kids to Princeton on the fees." [Richard Bradford, "Red Sky at Morning", p. 172, available online at [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0060931906 Red Sky at Morning on Amazon] ]
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