Our Quiet Title Lawyers Can Resolve Your Conflict
Title to real property is just another way of saying that a person or a corporation has legal ownership of real property. Having clear title to real estate not only proves ownership of the real property but also provides notice to all persons and prospective purchasers that the property is marketable and has no issues of title that would affect its ability to be sold or marketed.
What is a Quiet Title Action?
Florida Statutes Chapter 65: “Quieting Title” governs quiet title actions. Under Florida law, when two or more persons or entities are disputing over title or ownership and want to be recognized by the Court as true owners of a particular piece of real estate, a Quiet Title Action may be filed pursuant to Chapter 65, Florida Statutes. A Quiet Title Action is a circuit court lawsuit intended to clear up, for once and for all, any issues of title or ownership surrounding the subject of real estate. When filing a quiet title action, it is imperative that the person seeking to quiet title obtain a quiet title attorney as the slightest procedural misstep might give rise to having to refile or redo the entire quiet title action. A quiet title action is intended to determine who has title to the property and resolve issues or clouds on title, as stated in Florida Statute 65.011, “Real estate; certain jurisdiction over”.
Definition of Chain of Title
Chains of title are the historical records of all the owners of the land or real estate in chronological order. It is important to search the title because clouds might have been imposed somewhere along the chain of title and those “clouds” on the title may “run with the land.” Some examples of the possible clouds on title might be other parties having an interest in ownership of the property or a gap in the chain of title. Removing clouds from the title is important to keep the title insurable and marketable
Who Should File a Quiet Title Action?
A Quiet Title Action is necessary when two or more people who demonstrate a viable equitable interest in or ownership of a real property cannot solve the dispute themselves and need their right to ownership to be established by the court. When litigation intervention is needed, the persons or entities that have a title interest in the real property may file a Quiet Title lawsuit which will allow the Court to establish who the true owner of said property is. According to Florida Statute 65.021, “Real estate; removing clouds”, the court may require extrinsic evidence to recognize a true owner of real property.
Can two or more persons file a Quiet Title Action?
Two or more persons with an interest in removing clouds on title to real property or land suspension in respect of the same clouds or hostile claims may join as co-plaintiffs, or joiners, in joint action for cloud removal or Quiet Title Action, even if their interests relate to separate lands or separate parts of the said lands, as stated in Florida Statute 65.051, “Real estate; removing clouds; joiners”.
Clouds on Title
The phrase “cloud on title” is widely used in the real estate industry to refer to any claim or encumbrance (Examples: lien, mortgage, unpaid taxes, contractor’s lien, etc.) that could void, nullify, or cast doubt on ownership. If a title becomes “clouded”, the situation may be resolved by filing a Quiet Title Action.
Who can remove Clouds on Title via a Quiet Title Action?
In accordance with Florida Statute 65.031, “Real estate; removing clouds; plaintiffs”, a plaintiff who decides to proceed with quieting title and removing clouds from the real property could either be the current true owner of the property or may be the previous owner who warranted the title to the real property. Additionally, multiple lands may be included in one mutual action, disregarding the number of owners that are the legal owners or equitable owners.
What are the steps and remedies involved in a Quiet Title Action?
Florida Statute 65.061, “Quieting title; additional remedy” presents a list of six different steps and remedies involved in a Quiet Title Action. They are: (1) jurisdiction, (2) grounds, (3) deraignment of title, (4) judgement, (5) recording final judgments, and (6) operation.
- JURISDICTION: Chancery courts have jurisdiction over both any person/corporation claiming legal title to the real estate property or a part of the real estate property and multiple individuals claiming a common title to a real estate property or a part of the real estate property against persons/corporation claiming their ownership right or occupying the said real estate property. In both cases, the court will have to determine plaintiff(s)’ right of ownership and enter a judgment for quieting property and awarding possession of the real estate property to the party that is deemed entitled. In case where any of the defendants is in actual possession of the mentioned land, then any party may be granted a trial by jury upon request. The court shall then order ejectment. See Florida Statute 65.061(1)
- GROUNDS: Extrinsic evidence may be needed to determine the true ownership of the land or a part of the land if:
- When a person or a corporation, who does not have true ownership of the land or part of the land, has any evidence of title to it, makes any claim for it, or pretends to have any right or title to it, casting a cloud on the title of the rightful owner
- When a person or a corporation is the true owner of the land, the registered title to which is not held by that person or a corporation due to the improper execution of any deed or mortgage. (For example, due to the absence of a seal on it, the absence of witnesses, or any defect or omission in the wording of the acceptance of parties, etc.)
- When a person or corporation claims ownership of the land or part of the land by means of a defective deed, which appears to have been made and delivered by the grantor to convey or mortgage real estate and was registered in the county where the land is located
- When title to land has been held by any person or corporation, who is not the registered owner or his or her heirs and assigns, and this wrongful possession did not develop into a rightful title under the laws of the state where the land is located, such person or corporation may file a complaint with any county in which any piece of land is located to have the conveyance or any other evidence of title canceled to remove the cloud from the title and have their title annulated.
- Unless the interests of a minor, mentally ill, or convicted persons’ interests are involved in the issue, appointing guardian ad litem is not needed
- DERAIGNMENT OF TITLE: The plaintiff shall deraign his title from the original source or at least 7 years before the filing of the complaint, unless the court orders otherwise, by indicating the book and page of records where any document affecting the title is recorded, if applicable, if only the plaintiff does not come from the common source with the respondent. See Florida Statute 65.061(3)
- JUDGEMENT: In case the plaintiff is proven to be the true owner of the land based on at least one of the grounds mentioned in sub-section (2), or, evidence then is not needed, if there was a default entered against the defendant, the court will remove the cloud from the title and grant title to the plaintiff. See Florida Statute 65.061(4)
- RECORDING FINAL JUDGEMENTS: Final judgments may be recorded in the county or the counties where the real property is located and then can be legally used for transfer of ownership the same way as if it was documented by a commissioner or a special magistrate. See Florida Statute 65.061(5)
- OPERATION: All remedies mentioned in this section are cumulative to other remedies applicable. See Florida Statute 65.061(6)
What are Some Exceptions to a Quiet Title Action?
According to Florida Statute 65.071, an action to quiet title may be brought to prevent any wife and any heirs from claiming any dower or interest to the real estate property, if the following criteria has been met:
- When husband and wife do not live together for 30 years or more
- At that time the husband conveyed the land claiming to be a single man
- The husband refuses to get a dissolution of marriage to clear the title to prevent his wife and heirs to claim dower or any other interest in the real estate property
- The wife never lived at that property with her husband
- The wife never demonstrated her interest in the property, waiving her to the title and imposing cloud on title
Then the purchaser of the land can remove that cloud and prevent the wife and the heirs of the seller from claiming dower or any other interest in the real estate property.
- Proving these facts will allow the court to determine that neither the wife, nor the heirs of the seller will have a right to dower of the land help by purchasers.
Are There Any Liens or Other Interest in Real Property That Can Survive a Quiet Title Action?
Although a Quiet Title Action guarantees removal of all legal interests to the real property and the clearing of liens imposed on the property anywhere in the chain of title, there are some things that can survive a quiet title judgment. If a Federal Tax Lien, for example, was imposed on the property owner, a quiet title action might not help in clearing it.
The Process for Quiet Title Actions
After the title has been searched, the first step in filing a Quiet Title lawsuit is filing a complaint to quiet title. A complaint/lawsuit to quiet title should not be filed without a competent and knowledge Miami quiet title lawyer. A quiet title attorney with experience litigation quiet title actions will exponentially simplify the process. Once the complaint to quiet title has been filed, the defendant(s) must be served. After the other side has been served, they would then have twenty days, excluding weekends and legal holidays, to file their response, starting from the date that they have been served. If a problem reaching out to the defendant(s) occurs, service by publication is necessary.
The length of a Quiet Title Action may vary based on multiple factors. The number of parties involved in a Quiet Title lawsuit and the defenses these parties may use in court may significantly elongate the time the Quiet Title Action may take. In the best-case scenario, considering that the parties involved were found easily, the lawsuit will take around sixty days. If a problem locating the parties that are involved in a Quiet Title Action was encountered, it may add up an additional month or longer to the length of the lawsuit, as a service by newspaper would be needed.
What costs are involved in a Quiet Title Action?
The costs involved in a Quiet Title Action vary by counties and some additional charges that may be necessary based on details of the lawsuit. Title search charges may add up to $150 on average and the court filing fee ranges from $300 to $450 depending on which county has the jurisdiction over the real estate property and the amount of parties named in the quiet title suit. Depending on the complexity of the case, some additional charges may be applied, such as publication charges and a guardian ad litem fee which may be up to a few thousands of dollars. Regardless, it is highly recommended to retain the services of a qualified and experienced quiet title lawyer.
Contact our Experienced Miami Quiet Title Lawyers at Our Firm
Property owners seeking to quiet title should certainly consult with and retain the services of a quiet title lawyer. Edelboim Lieberman Revah has extensive experience litigating quiet title actions. Call our law firm today for a free consultation with one of our quiet title attorneys.