Quiet Title Action

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Quiet Title Action

A proceeding to establish an individual's right to ownership of real property against one or more adverse claimants.

An action to quiet title is a lawsuit filed to establish ownership of real property (land and buildings affixed to land). The plaintiff in a quiet title action seeks a court order that prevents the respondent from making any subsequent claim to the property. Quiet title actions are necessary because real estate may change hands often, and it is not always easy to determine who has title to the property.

A quiet title suit is also called a suit to remove a cloud. A cloud is any claim or potential claim to ownership of the property. The cloud can be a claim of full ownership of the property or a claim of partial ownership, such as a lien in an amount that does not exceed the value of the property. A title to real property is clouded if the plaintiff, as the buyer or recipient of real estate, might have to defend her full ownership of the property in court against some party in the future. A landowner may bring a quiet title action regardless of whether the respondent is asserting a present right to gain possession of the premises.

For example, assume that the seller of the property agreed to sell but died before the sale was finalized. Assume further that the seller also gave the property to a nephew in a will. In such a situation, both the nephew and the buyer have valid grounds for filing a suit to quiet title because each has a valid claim to the property.

The law on quiet title actions varies from state to state. Some states have quiet title statutes. Other states allow courts to fashion most of the laws regarding quiet title actions. Under the Common Law, a plaintiff must be in possession of the property to bring a quiet title action, but many state statutes do not require actual possession by the plaintiff. In other states possession is not relevant. In some states only the person who holds legal title to the real estate may file a quiet title action, but in other states anyone with sufficient interest in the property may bring a quiet title action. Generally, a person who has sold the property does not have sufficient interest. When a landowner owns property subject to a mortgage, the landowner may bring a quiet title action in states where the mortgagor retains title to the property. If the mortgagee keeps the title until the mortgage is paid, the mortgagee, not the landowner, would have to bring the action.

The general rule in a quiet title action is that the plaintiff may succeed only on the strength of his own claim to the real estate, and not on the weakness of the respondent's claim. The plaintiff bears the burden of proving that he owns the title to the property. A plaintiff may have less than a fee simple, or less than full ownership, and maintain an action to quiet title. So long as the plaintiff's interest is valid and the respondent's interest is not, the plaintiff will succeed in removing the cloud (the respondent's claim) from the title to the property.


Cloud on Title.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

quiet title action

n. a lawsuit to establish a party's title to real property against anyone and everyone, and thus "quiet" any challenges or claims to the title. Such a suit usually arises when there is some question about clear title, there exists some recorded problem (such as an old lease or failure to clear title after payment of a mortgage), an error in description which casts doubt on the amount of property owned, or an easement used for years without a recorded description. An action for quiet title requires description of the property to be "quieted," naming as defendants anyone who might have an interest (including descendants---known or unknown---of prior owners), and the factual and legal basis for the claim of title. Notice must be given to all potentially interested parties, including known and unknown, by publication. If the court is convinced title is in the plaintiff (the plaintiff owns the title), a quiet title judgment will be granted which can be recorded and thus provide legal "good title." Quiet title actions are a common example of "friendly" lawsuits in which often there is no opposition. (See: title, cloud on title, notice)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
By contrast, a quiet title action would introduce a defendant, under the county's proposal: the descendents of the Skinner family.
After the award, Jarboe, the Britts' attorney in the eminent domain proceeding, sent a letter to both Morrison and Marek as attorneys in the quiet title action. Citing his agreement with the Britts, Jarboe claimed that he was entitled to a fee of $2,750 for his work.
Supreme Court (140) stemmed from the fact that the court did not resolve the quiet title action prior to the disposition of the collateral.
The Ninth Circuit agreed with the lower court that the Tribe's quiet title action (against both the state and its officers) was barred by the Eleventh Amendment, because a quiet title action necessarily determines ownership interests and thus would impair the state's claimed interest.(35) However, the Ninth Circuit held, the Tribe's request for declaratory and injunctive relief against state officials to prevent interference with the Tribe's alleged property rights in certain submerged lands, derived from federal law, could proceed under Ex parte Young.(36) Because it concluded that the Tribe might be able to prove facts entitling it to relief, the Ninth Circuit reversed the dismissal of the claims for declaratory and injunctive relief against the state officials and remanded.
The court noted that the claim for damages due to increased costs of construction might be "problematical, depending perhaps on whether or not the dentists could have reneged on the purchase had they been aware of the restriction prior to closing." (12) Thus, while Endrushchat allowed recovery only for the fees and costs of pursuing the quiet title action, the court's language suggests that consequential damages might be recoverable but for the particular facts of that case.
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On appeal, the state supreme court emphasized that to prevail in a quiet title action, McRae needed to establish ownership of the roadbed on the strength of her own title and could not rely on weaknesses in SSI's title.
The dentists filed their own successful quiet title action, and then sued the title company for damages.
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NOTICE OF QUIET TITLE ACTION Notice is hereby given that a Petition has been filed in the office 01 the Circuit Clerk of Pulaski County, Arkansas, to quiet and confirm title in and to the following described property in Pulaski County.