Quiet Title Action – What is it? When is it needed?
A quiet title action is a lawsuit filed in civil court to clear title against adverse claims to real property. It is filed pursuant to Cal. Civil Code Section 760.020 by a person or entity that claims title to all or a piece of property and asks for the Court to find that his/her/its interest in the property is above all others.
A scenario in which it can be used is when you discover a deed or lien that was recorded against your property by fraud or without you knowing about it.
For example, a client that was trying to sell a property came to Kendall Law because a Deed of Trust was recorded against the property which was the result of a fraudulent transaction where a group scammed elderly people into signing these deeds and never funded the loans that were secured by the deeds. There was a criminal federal case that found that this group had defrauded these people.
In the example above, the Kendall Law team filed a quiet title action and after a default prove-up trial, was able to clear title so that it could be sold. (The default prove-up trial is one where the court hears the evidence offered by the plaintiff and renders judgment in his or her favor as it appears by such evidence to be just.)
Depending on the type of claim, the plaintiff needs to either prove by clear and convincing evidence or a preponderance of evidence their basis for clearing title in their name. There is no right to a jury trial in a quiet title claim.
Another case of quiet title, and one that is not heard of very often, is quiet title by adverse possession. The Kendall Law team took over a case where the people living in the property had moved into the property which was run down and vacant for over 12 years prior. They cleaned out the mold and remodeled the property so it was livable, started paying the taxes and held the property out as their own. After a drawn-out court trial, Kendall Law obtained judgment for their clients granting them full title of the property.
Other reasons for quiet title actions are boundary disputes, errors in deeds or easements on the property.
There are very specific legal pleading requirements for a quiet title action, such as the complaint must be verified and a lis pendens (an official notice to the public that a lawsuit involving a claim on a property has been filed) must be filed in the county where the real property is located.
It is also a good idea to obtain a litigation guarantee to ensure that you have the names of all parties that may have an interest in the property named and served.
Quiet title actions can be complicated. It’s important that you understand the process and consider the positive and negative consequences of pursuing a quiet title action. Please connect with us to set up a consultation to walk through the risks and rewards. Kendall Law is here to help. Contact us or call (310) 619-4941.