Protecting and Cleaning Up Your Property Interest: An Overview of Quiet Title Actions

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Introduction 

If there is something wrong with or complicated about the title to your real estate or the real estate you’re about to purchase, then a quiet title action may be necessary.  As explained below, a quiet title action is a lawsuit that literally “quiets” disputes, claims, or challenges to the title of real property. 

For most people, real estate is the most valuable asset they own. Without proper title, it can be almost impossible to sell or get a mortgage on property. For this reason, it is important that people make sure they do everything they can to protect their interest in their property. This article will outline the basics of a quiet title action and explain what property owners should know about quiet title.  

The Basics of Quiet Title 

In general, quiet title actions seek to resolve disputed interests in real property. Complications can often arise from owning real estate and can lead to disputes with surrounding property owners or co-owners. This can result in a clouded title, which means there is uncertainty regarding the true ownership of a piece of real property. Even if these types of situations have not yet led to litigation, it is important to remove the cloud on the title of the property. One of the most common means of resolving a real property dispute is through a quiet title action. 

Common clouds on title include undischarged security interests, such as a mortgage or land contract, unextinguished fee simple ownership interests such as interests now held by an estate or by a decedent’s heirs or potential interests resulting from scrivener’s errors, tax and construction liens, and various lesser interests that affect the marketability of the property, such as an easement for the use of a portion of the property. 

Quiet Title Cause of Action 

An action to quiet title is equitable in nature and must be brought in circuit courtMCL 600.2932. A person may bring a suit to quiet title regardless of whether the person is in actual possession of the land. MCL 600.2932. In order to succeed on an action for quiet title, the plaintiff must establish that he or she has an interest in the property at issue that is superior to all other persons claiming an interest in the property.1 The Court will review the whole situation and examine all the evidence relating to the title, interests, and rights involving the property in making its decision.  

When bringing a quiet title action, the plaintiff is required to provide certain evidence to establish his or her superior interest including: 

  • A description of property. 
  • The plaintiff’s interest in the property. 
  • The defendant(s)’ interest in the property. 
  • Facts establishing the superiority of the plaintiff’s claim. 
  • A reference to written evidence of title. 
  • A statement of the title of the pleader, showing from whom title was obtained and the record information. 

Ultimately, the Court will enter a judgment declaring the extent of the parties’ ownership and rights to the property at issue. If successful, the Court will enter judgment concluding that the plaintiff holds full legal and equitable title to the property at issue free and clear of any and all claims of the defendant(s) in the action, and quieting title to the property in favor of the plaintiff forever.  This court ruling can be recorded in the real estate records. 

Conclusion 

A clouded title restricts your ability to fully enjoy your property and can significantly alter the value of your property. If you are having problems with title to your property, reach out to the attorneys at Lachman Stuart PLC, and we will help guide you in protecting your interest in your property.