What You Should Know About Quiet Title In Florida

Today the real estate market in Florida continues its slow but steady recovery. As a result of the improving real estate market, the Sunshine State’s land title issues are increasing and causing problems for Floridians, real estate investors, home and condo buyers from other states looking to buy property and relocate to Florida. Although the foreclosure problems that plagued our state are much less than a year ago, the foreclosure process has become more expedient through our courts. Less time in the foreclosure process has created a lot of buying opportunities all over the state. However, the reliability in clean titles still remains a mess and it may take many more years to clean things up. Therefore, any potential buyers of Florida real estate should proceed with caution with real property transfers including sales, purchases, insurance, liens and other encumbrances.

Here are a few facts that real estate buyers, sellers, and investors in Florida properties should be aware of:

What is title?

In Florida, when a person holds title in certain land, the title represents that the holder has certain legal ownership in the property. The title process in Florida Courts is a highly regarded in protecting the recording of ownership in land as well as the transfer of real property.

Ways in which to take title.

Florida law allows title to be taken in several ways and usually dependent on considerations such as estate planning and tax consequences. In Florida title of real estate can be taken in your own name, which is called sole ownership. Second, in trust, where title can be held by a specific trust in the name of a designated trustee for the benefit of certain ascertained beneficiaries, as well as a Florida Land Trust and a Living Trust. And finally, title to property can be taken with jointly with two or more owners. Examples of these types of tenancies include “tenants in common” as well as joint tenants with the right of survivorship.” Additionally, title can be taken by married couples as a tenancy by the entirety.

Holders of legal title in Florida?

Although generally natural persons hold legal title to real property in Florida, entities such as corporations, limited liability companies, and partnerships may also hold legal title to real estate in Florida.

Clear title?

In Florida, to ensure that real estate has clear title is achieved by filing a court action for quiet title. While title insurance policy does offer protection for the policy holder against claims brought by those claiming a right to the property, the policy does not have any effect on establishing clear title.

Quiet Title Action.

In Florida, an action for quiet title is a civil lawsuit usually filed by the homeowner/property owner in Circuit Court. The purpose of this action is to ask the court to declare a judgment terminating rights on parties with clouded title.

Length of a quiet title action?

The civil action for quiet title is different in every case. There are many factors that come into play such as how many parties are involved, how easy those parties are to find, and what if any defenses those parties may raise. The proceeding begins by filing the suit and serving the other side. The served parties will then have twenty days to file a response from the date that they were actually served. If a party cannot be found, service can be achieved by publication of the proceeding in a locally circulated newspaper for four consecutive weeks. If the parties are easily found the action can be complete within sixty days. However, if service through newspaper is required, this can add an additional month.

Cloud on Title?

A cloud on title causes gaps in the chain of title for real estate. Additionally, a cloud on title is also caused by any adverse interest to the ownership claim such as a lien. The removal of this cloud on title ensures that ownership has clear title.

Successful quiet title action?

A successful quiet title action removes all adverse legal claims and interest on the property in question. This results in a Florida judge signing a judgment that renders the property as quieted, and as a result the recorded chain of title if free from encumbrances and/or liens. Typically, the only types of liens that survive a quiet title action are Federal Tax Liens and Bank Mortgage Liens on the property.