Can A Quiet Title Lawsuit Help You?
When you purchase property, you just assume that whoever sold it to you owned it and could give you ownership. You assume that once you buy it, the property is yours. But what if this isn’t the case? What if someone else shows up and says “hold on a minute—you didn’t buy that property, because it’s mine”? Now you may have a problem.
Understanding Chain of Title
To understand quiet title lawsuits, you need to understand the basics of obtaining good title to the property you purchased. The core question is whether whomever you bought the property from actually owned the property to sell it to you. You can’t sell something you don’t own.
This is done by going into the public records and making sure that what is known as the chain of title is accurate. Your real estate attorney will make sure that Owner 1 legitimately sold the property to Owner 2, that Owner 2 sold it to Owner 3, and so on, until your transaction.
Problems With the Chain of Title
Once that checks out, you will be cleared to purchase the property. But it sometimes happens that someone shows up, who says that they own the property, who did not show up in the chain of title. Perhaps someone received a deed that was never recorded, or there was a forged deed somewhere in that chain of title.
You can then have a situation where someone else claims ownership of property that you claim to own. This necessitates a quiet title lawsuit.
In a quiet title lawsuit, you are asking the court to clear up the public records and clarify who actually owns the property. You will be suing anybody who may have or may have had any interest in the property at any point. Defendants can include prior owners, but can also include lienors, like prior mortgages.
Ambiguities in the Chain
You may not have any challenges at all to a quiet title lawsuit. For example, imagine someone paid a mortgage off, but there’s nothing reflecting that the mortgage was ever paid off in the public records. Or, imagine a lien in the public records, but the legal time limit to enforce the lien has expired.
In these cases, the chain of title is vague, incomplete, or unclear. The quiet title lawsuit will clear any ambiguities in the chain of title, and settle title in your name.
Some liens are almost never eliminated in quiet title lawsuits. Government tax liens are usually always superior to other liens, and almost never expire.
You also can’t use quiet title to eliminate a prior, valid lien, just because you want to own your property free and clear—ultimately, it is on you and your real estate attorney to ensure that you aren’t buying property that is subject to a lien, or that has a defect or ambiguity in the chain of title.
We know how to handle problems that can come up during the real estate closing process. Contact the Tampa real estate lawyers at the Gilbert Garcia Group, P.A. today.