A legal action to establish rights of ownership in real estate by one party against one or more adverse claimants.
An action to quiet title is filed to establish ownership of real estate. It is settled resolved based upon a court’s review and findings from recorded documents in the County’s records where the real estate lies, as well as other contractual documents purporting to transfer ownership rights in the property.
A quiet title action is also called a suit to remove a cloud on title. A cloud on title is any claim of ownership against the property that is not openly acknowledged by the fee owner of the property. The cloud can be a claim of complete ownership or merely a claim to lesser rights in the property, such as a lien on the land. Title to real estate is clouded if the Plaintiff, as the buyer might have to defend his full ownership rights in the property in court against another party in the future in spite of properly obtaining and recording his interest in those rights.
A landowner may generally bring a quiet title action regardless of whether the other party (-ies) is asserting a present right to possession of the real estate. An owner should always take care to file any Quiet Title action against any and all known adverse claimants. In fact, Landmark Legal Services typically files such actions against “all the world” in order to enable any adverse claims to be brought to the court’s attention – so that any future claims would be foreclosed. Hence, title is then truly “quiet”.
Recent case law in federal court suggests that an owner is NOT entitled to file a Quiet Title action against a mortgage holder with a claim against the real estate, though this case law lacks general acceptance or state court authority at this juncture.