In Florida, a quiet title action is a lawsuit filed to have the court declare the plaintiff has sole legal title to a piece of property and remove actual or potential clouds on a property’s title. The plaintiff should name any person or entity that might have an ownership claim to the property as a defendant and specify the nature of their inferior interest which may cast a cloud upon the title of the plaintiff. Common reasons for bringing a quiet title action are:
- Tax Deeds and Title Insurance – If a buyer purchased a property in a tax sale, Florida title insurance companies will not insure title to that land until the tax deed has been recorded for four years. However, if the buyer files a quiet title action naming all previous title owners of record, mortgagees, and all other potential claims to the land, then the buyer can usually purchase title insurance and have marketable title as soon as the court enters final judgment quieting title.
- Adverse Possession – Adverse possession is the legal method by which a person in possession of land owned by someone else may acquire valid title to the land after seven years without actually buying it. Ownership of the land does not automatically transfer when this time frames expires. A quiet title action must be filed to establish ownership by adverse possession.
- Boundary Disputes – These can arise between cities, states or private parties. A prescriptive easement is one example where a person gains a legal right to use someone else’s land through regular use over 20 years without their express or implied permission. Ownership of the easement does not automatically transfer when this time frame expires. A quiet title action must be filed to establish the prescriptive easement.
- Incapacity, Fraud, Undue influence – If a deed is forged or procured by fraud or coercion or if the owner of real property lacks capacity when they sign the deed to transfer their interest in a property, a quiet title action may be required.
- Surveying errors – These can result in an incorrect assessment of the exact amount of land that is owned by the property owner (e.g. incorrect legal description).
- Competing claims by reverters, remainders, missing heirs and lien holders – These often arise in basic foreclosure actions when satisfied liens are not properly discharged from title due to clerical or recording errors between the county clerk and the satisfied lien holder.
In a quiet title action, a plaintiff must prove with clearness, accuracy, and certainty, not only the validity of their own title, but the invalidity or inferiority of defendant’s title or claim, unless such invalidity or inferiority be admitted by defendant by default, disclaimer, or otherwise. Quiet Title actions may be brought in the name of the current owner or prior owners who may have warranted the title involved. Typically, a quiet title action takes 8-10 weeks to complete. The process may take longer or may be shorter depending on your particular situation.
Because conflicts in property ownership may lead to complex litigation, it is imperative to retain an experienced real estate lawyer to simplify the quiet title process, prepare your case, and represent your interests in the courtroom.
Call the Law Offices of Jarrett R. Williams, P.A. today to have our attention to detail and real estate transactional and litigation experience provide you with the insight to achieve solutions to your most complex real estate matters.
“Detail. Insight. Solutions.”