Quiet title action is a way to clear or extinguish claims or encumbrances against a property title. It is performed as a court case, normally in civil court, possibly in circuit court depending on the jurisdiction. A property owner basically sues for quiet title in joining all third parties from ever making a claim of ownership, lien, or mortgage against the property. The case is presented to the court and there are certain conditions that the judge requires to be met. For example, the judge may require that notices be sent to potential claimants or the judge may require public advertisement of the quiet title action. And then anywhere from thirty to ninety days is allowed for potential claimants to bring their documentation.
Originally quiet title was used to resolve uncontested boundary disputes or used in cases where a company or another party is missing and can’t be contacted to sign off on a release of lien or release of mortgage. In the last couple years quiet title action has been used more often for foreclosure defense.
There are some advantages as to why this method of foreclosure defense is popular. First of all, the quiet title occurs in civil court which is a less lender friendly venue than foreclosure court. When lenders are in front of a foreclosure judge, the lenders typically prevail. On the other hand, it is a more even playing field for a borrower and a lender in a civil court. In a foreclosure court the lender can drag out a foreclosure for months and months, sometimes more than a year. In quiet title there is a statutory limit on how long the action has to take so the lender has a certain amount of time to respond with correct paperwork. Additionally, there are no “do overs” with quiet title action in civil court. If a lender’s paperwork is incorrect then it cannot withdraw and refile like foreclosure courts allow. Judges in civil court are more likely to be interested in the letter of the law where mortgage note documentation is either right or wrong and there is no room for error, while in foreclosure court there are sometimes allowances for slight deviations from accepted title practices.
Once a quiet title action is complete, the owner is given a final judgment of quiet title. This is recorded in the land records in joining all other claimants other than those listed on the quiet title from ever brining claim against the property or against the property owner.
So how does one start a quiet title action? Start by getting a certified title search done to find out what items are currently showing against that title, what claims are being made, and what encumbrances or clouds are on that title. By knowing and understanding what clouds are on a title you can then figure out what the best avenue is to clear a property of encumbrances or claims through quiet title action.