Property Ownership Disputes: How to Use Quiet Title Actions

Whether there is a lien on your property or an unexpected heir comes forth claiming to be the rightful owner, there is a chance that you will have to deal with quiet title actions to clear the air about who has the greater right to the property. Title law can be confusing if you don't understand what it is and how it works. It's in your best interest to talk to a lawyer who specializes in title law.

Continue reading to learn everything that you need to know about quiet title actions and how they're used to solidify a claim on a property dispute.

What Is a Quiet Title Action?

Quiet title actions are filed to 1) resolve disputes of property ownership or 2) clear liens or levies on the property. It's considered to be a type of legal proceeding used to determine the ownership of a property. It's a type of lawsuit brought against anyone who is trying to claim ownership.

Quiet Title Action Steps

The first step to a quiet title action claim is the filing of the claim. Once the claim gets processed, the court will issue a notice to the defendants who will be involved in the suit.

Ownership is then negotiated. If it cannot be settled, the judge will decide whose claim is more solid. The judge will give their ruling, then the updates will be updated accordingly. The new order will then be given to the title company.

What Does It Mean to "Quiet a Title"?

The term "quiet a title" means that once the owner prevails, that property owner can no longer be challenged by anyone seeking a claim of the property. It prevents future inquiries made about the rightful owner of a property. It also allows the defendant of the case to remain anonymous.

The parties involved in a quiet title action may be:

  • Family members of those who pass away without a will
  • Family members of those who pass away with an unclear or questionable will
  • Mortgage holders of underwater property foreclosures
  • Absentee property owners
  • Tax lien spectators

The properties involved in a quiet title action may have been in a tax delinquent status for more than five years or identified for redevelopment or reuse. The process may take anywhere from eight to ten weeks through about six months. Quiet title action cost may average thousands of dollars depending on your personal situation and the local regulations.

How Do Quiet Title Actions Work?

When a quiet title action is uncontested, the claimant receives ownership and it solidifies their claim to the property. The county records are then updated to reflect these changes to the property.

However, when a quiet title action is contested, the claimant must go to trial. The trial will determine who has the strongest claim to ownership of the property. The Master of Equity will then extinguish the previous rights of the defeated party's ownership. They update the county records and "chain of title" (or "chain of history") to show the new and/or current ownership.

A quiet title action may be necessary when you'd like to purchase a house or property that is currently unoccupied. It's important to determine if there are possible heirs, lien holders, or lessees that may come out of the woodwork and potentially cause a problem.

You might encounter quiet title actions when the ownership of a property is defective. This includes record errors, fraud, liens, probate, and foreclosure.

Record Errors

Human error attributes to errors in property ownership documents because automated services are just beginning to track this information. Mistakes like this can put property owners in a difficult situation.

Fraud

Fraudulent behavior resulting in the forging of a title deed for a property as a way to intentionally deceive others. In some cases, forged documents have led to the illegal sale of a property.

Liens

In a title lien, the property owner gives another individual or creditor the right to seize property to secure outstanding debts. The right to the property is then held as collateral. When the debt goes unpaid, the property is then taken from the property owner.

Probate

Probate is the legal process of property and/or asset distribution to the family following a loved one's death. The legitimacy of their will is examined before the distribution of assets and properties. When someone dies without having a will in place, assets are then distributed according to the Laws of Descent and Distribution.

Foreclosure

Foreclosure can cause you to lose your home or property when you default on your mortgage payments. However, it can also throw a wrench in any plans that you may have to buy a home or property that has been foreclosed upon, even if you are the rightful owner.

Why Are They So Important?

Quiet title actions are essential in establishing legal ownership for real estate transactions. They can handle any claims of defective properties or legal issues that crop up in the obtaining of a deed to the properties. Title companies will check and verify any deed (as well as checking for existing claims against a property) when buying and/or selling the property.

A quiet title action can help to resolve:

  • Adverse claims on possession
  • Issues with tax taking
  • Boundary disputes

If you want to prove that you are the rightful owner of a property, you may have to file a claim for a Quote Title Action lawsuit.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

Title law can be confusing and overwhelming when you face it alone. Having someone by your side who knows how the laws work can help you to achieve the best outcome and alleviate some of the stress of quiet title actions.

Contact De Bruin Law Firm today for a consultation. We're looking forward to working with you on this!

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Aaron De Bruin

Aaron De Bruin is an Estate Planning and Criminal Defense attorney serving Greenville, SC and the surrounding upstate. Aaron fights for the rights of every one of his clients works hard to make sure they are treated fairly – no matter how small or large a legal case may be.
The De Bruin Law firm offers a wide range of legal services to clients in Greenville, SC and the surrounding upstate. Our experienced attorneys can help you with legal matters in the areas of business law, criminal law, estate planning, and real estate law.
(864) 982-5930
[email protected]
16 Wellington Ave, Greenville, SC 29609
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