REAL ESTATE LAW
What Is A Quiet Title Action?
In Florida, a cause of action for quiet title is a legal proceeding, which is filed in circuit court and is used to clear title the claimant’s real property. The goal of a quiet title action is to get rid of all claims to title, that would prevent a title insurance company from issuing an insurance policy of clear title. Issues that may affect titles are called clouds on title, and include encumbrances such as liens, or claims by subsequent owners.
Actions for quiet title can be applicable in an array of various situations. Most commonly, this legal proceeding is used after the purchase real property from a tax deed sale. The reason that a quiet title action is appropriate in this situation is to ultimately prevent subsequent lien holders, owners, and mortgage holders from claiming any interest in the subject real property. Winning in the action for quiet title permits a title insurance company to write a policy properly insuring title to the purchased property, so long as all the necessary parties are named in the action and the action is properly brought.
On the other hand, in a situation where a purchaser at a tax deed sale holds an interest in the purchased property, pays taxes and takes care of the property for a period of four years, creates the possibility in avoiding having to file an action for quiet title. Conversely, it might become complicated to sell the property within four years without having to first file an action for quiet title.
There are particular cases, where an action for quiet title might not wipe out all liens. For instance, in Florida there was an unsettled issue as to whether HOA assessments and unpaid condominium dues can survive a tax deed sale in a case where a claim of lien had not been filed. The condominium associations took the position that the liability was not only on the current owner but instead joint and severably liable with the prior owner. Nevertheless, Florida Statute Chapter 197, which presides over tax deed sales, specifies that only government liens continue through a tax deed sale. Therefore, if an encumbrance or lien survived the sale of a tax deed, bringing an action for quiet title would not remove the lien or encumbrance.
Additionally, actions for quiet title are often used to settle disputes of ownership in situations where a break in the “chain of title” exits and/or it is uncertain who is the actual owner of the property. This can sometimes occur from mistakes when recording or executing deeds as well as from “wild” deeds, which is a name given to a deed that is recorded outside the chain of title.
Finally, actions for quiet title ensure to clear up many issues that involve title of real property. Any interested parties claiming ownership in the real property would be on notice of the lawsuit and have an opportunity to maintain their interest in the property. In a case where no interested parties come forward, the court would then issue a judgment of quiet title in favor of the Plaintiff. Which is the fundamental goal of an action for quiet title.
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