A quiet title lawsuit is filed when ownership of a property is in question. It is important for real estate owners to have a clear title, whereby there are not liens or levies against the title and no disputes over the property’s ownership. These possible problems are known as clouds on the title and can be dealt with through an action to quiet title.
A quiet title suit is also known as 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 landowner may bring a quiet title action regardless of whether the respondent is claiming 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 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.
If you have an issue involving a quieting title, please contact us at (310) 477-7767 or fill out the form here to set up a consultation to discuss your potential case.
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