A quiet title is a court proceeding where the court is asked to declare someone the owner of a property or to remove a lien against a property. The most common quiet title action in this area is when an investor purchases a property at a tax sale. Because the municipalities often do not personally serve the property owner (and when they do their are often errors), title companies will not issue title policies for properties purchased at tax sales. In order to get a title company to issue a title policy, the purchaser is required to file a quiet title suit that personally serves the owner at the time of the sale.
Will a Title Company Issue a Title Policy Following a Quiet Title?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is “it depends.” Many title companies will issue a policy immediately following the entry of an order in a quiet title action. Other title companies have additional waiting periods after the action is completed. As such, you will always want to check with your title company before proceeding with a quiet title.
Are There Alternatives to a Quiet Title?
Yes. If the quiet title is being filed as the result of a tax sale, there is an option called a “title bridge certificate.” This is a certificate issued by title insurance agent that covers over the title issue. The cost of these certificates is usually about the same as a quiet title action. Moreover, not all title companies down the line will issue policies with a title bridge certificate. As such, while you may be able to obtain these certificates to purchase a property with insurance, you may not be able to use it to sell to another party (unless you purchase another certificate).
You might ask why someone would obtain these certificates if they do not fully cure the title issue, and the answer is usually the timeline. You can obtain a title bridge certificate fairly quickly as opposed to the several months that it takes to obtain a quiet title judgment. Therefore, this might be the option if the sale needs to take place on a short timeline. With that being said, it would be advisable to follow up the title bridge certificate with a full quiet title action so you can move quickly and fully resolve the issue for the future.
Our title company does not issue these certificates, but our law firm does help perform quiet title actions.
What Are Other Examples of When a Quiet Title is Needed?
Any title defect may be cured with a quiet title action. For example, if an old lender refused to release a mortgage or deed of trust and is now defunct, the best option may be a quiet title. Similarly, if there is a discrepancy between names on two deeds or if a spouse does not sign a deed selling a property, a quiet title might be appropriate.
Another example of when a quiet title is appropriate is if there is a boundary dispute or if someone is claiming ownership of a property through adverse possession. These, however, are usually contested quiet titles which are outside the scope of this page and discussed in more detail on our boundary disputes webpage.
How Long Does a Quiet Title Action Take?
The biggest variable is how long it takes to find and serve all of the interested parties. If some of the parties are difficult to find or avoid service, it may take a while. With that being said, the average timeline for a quiet title action is 90-120 days from start to finish.
What is The Process for a Quiet Title Action?
A quiet title action follows a fairly standard process, which is outlined below. If you elect to hire us for your quiet title, you will get access to an iPhone, Android, and web app that you can use to track the status of your matter through the various stages.
Step 1: Sign up for Guarded Pockets™
If you are not yet a member of Guarded Pockets™, the first step is to become a member. In addition to allowing us to help with your business planning, Guarded Pockets™ also provides many other benefits, including unlimited scheduled phone calls with a real estate attorney, registered agent and deed of trust trustee services, state compliance monitoring, daily REO and distressed MLS listing emails, and discounted title and real estate brokerage services. You can learn more about Guarded Pockets™ or sign up for a free trial by clicking on this link.
Step 2: Sign up for Services
Once you are a member of Guarded Pockets™, you can sign up for our services including our litigation and dispute resolution services.
Step 3: Intake Form
In order for us to get the information we need to proceed with your quiet title, we will ask you to complete an intake form and upload the relevant documents, such as a the deed granting you ownership of the property and any other documents related to this matter. We will also need to request a title report to ensure we name all of the interested parties. It generally takes a few days to receive the title report.
Step 4: Attorney Review
The next step in the process is for the attorney to review the title report and information you submit to make sure there are no issues and to identify the parties who are to receive notice of the quiet title action. We will also research how to locate each of the parties for service of the petition. This stage of the process may take a week or longer depending on how hard it is to find all of the interested parties.
Step 5: Answer/Response Period
Once we have reviewed your information, we will file the petition for quiet title and will send it to a private process server for service. This is the most important part of a quiet title action as the purpose of the action to make sure the named parties do not claim an interest in the property. Some times service is quick and easy. Many times service can be difficult and will take multiple attempts. As such, this process could take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
Once we have served all of the relevant parties, we must wait to see if anyone responds. Most of the time when we there is a reason for us to file a quiet title, the other side will not respond. This is because the person who is receiving the notice likely does not have any actual interest in the property but is receiving notice simply to clear up title issues. The time period for response after service is thirty days.
Step 6: Default Judgment
If the defendants do not respond, we will ask the court to enter a default judgment, which is essentially judgment as the result of someone not responding. Many times the court will require a default judgment hearing where evidence is presented to the court of your ownership interest. In other courts this hearing may not be required. If a hearing is required, I would expect a month or longer before the order is entered. If a hearing is not required, the order should be entered within a week or two.
How Much Does a Quiet Title Cost?
We charge our clients a honest, fair and transparent rate for our quiet title actions. You can view our current rates and sign up for a quiet title action by clicking on this link.