What is a Quiet Title Action?
A quiet title action helps you resolve title issues which may prevent you from selling a piece of property. Under New York law, any interested party can file a quiet title action.
A title is “clear” when nobody else has another claim on the property. There are many reasons why this chain of ownership can become murky. When this happens, the title is said to have a “cloud.”
Issues which can create a cloud include:
- Property line disputes.
- Easements, such as shared driveways or facilities.
- Creditor claims, either mortgage holders or lien holders.
- The death of a previous owner and the existence of heirs.
- Clerical and filing errors.
- The existence of a fraudulent deed.
- Foreclosures, including tax foreclosures.
Title research helps to determine who else might have a claim on the property. When you discover someone, you can use a quiet title action to notify the person with the existing claim that you intend to challenge their claim in court.
What happens next depends largely on who owns the title and why. In some cases the claim may be so old as to be moot. The defendant may never show up to assert their claim, and the title will be summarily cleared via a court order.
Once you’ve cleared the claim the title is clean again and you are free to move forward with the purchase or sale of the property.
In some cases, the defendant will show up at court to defend their claim.
Once any party mounts a defense quiet title actions become immensely complicated. You need an attorney on-board from the beginning, even if you don’t anticipate any resistance. When you launch a quiet title action you are launching a lawsuit, and that’s something you need to be aware of even if you don’t anticipate any opposition.
Indeed, clearing title issues always requires an attorney as the quiet title action may not be the right tool for your circumstances.
In some cases, it may be better to file a “cloud of title” action. This action seeks to remove a title cloud without specifically seeking to determine property ownership. In some cases, pursuing a quitclaim deed may be the wiser move. If you want to meet your objectives in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible then it is vitally important to choose the right tool for the task.