Understanding Quiet Title Action Lawsuits in California
Uncertain property boundaries between neighbors, boundary disputes, unclear ownership of inherited property, and claims of adverse possession are some of the common reasons for filing quiet title actions in California. This type of lawsuit requires legal representation from an experienced real estate attorney for settling a dispute and establishing title to the property.
Quiet Title Lawsuits in California
The purpose of quieting title to a property is to establish clear ownership of the title against adverse claims or any interest in the real property as per Cal. Civ. Code § 760.020. Quiet title action represents a legal proceeding whereby an entity or person claims title to a portion or all of a specific real property. The Plaintiff asks the Court for a ruling that their title is superior to any other interest claimed by the Defendant.
It’s essential that the action is filed in the same county where the real property is located physically. The Court has the supreme power to make determinations on the title issues once you file the quiet title action.
It is important to understand that these lawsuits are particularly powerful. Hence, they involve stringent requirements as compared to other lawsuits in the real estate field. It’s also necessary to understand that quiet title actions are different from cancellation of instrument claims and claims to remove a cloud on the title.
Purpose of Filing a Quiet Title Action
Quiet title lawsuits are filed for targeting any adverse interests in a real estate property. The claim is appropriate for establishing an interest against other existing clouds on the title or adverse claims in real property ((Paterra v. Hansen (2021) 64 Cal.App.5th 507, 532.) All quiet title actions seek to sue unnamed defendants designated as persons claiming an interest in the concerned property.
If the Plaintiff is successful in their action, the court will establish their title, which will become binding on non-parties to the suit. Quiet title action judgments are good against the world in a manner of speaking (Nickell v. Matlock (2012) 206 Cal. App.4th 934, 944.)
These are a few typical reasons for filing a quiet title action:
- Boundary disputes: These arise when adjoining property owners disagree over the location of a boundary line.
- Errors on deed: This refers to clerical errors on a deed that requires resolving.
- Easement on property: A Plaintiff may seek to establish the duties and rights regarding the easement on a real estate property.
- Lienholder claims: The property may have claims by lienholders regarding unpaid property taxes or for an outstanding Deed of Trust that doesn’t appear to have been discharged.
Special Requirements for Bringing a Quiet Title Action in California
Quiet title actions have several unique requirements, which is why they are characterized as stringent. These lawsuits are commenced by filing a complaint with the court for quieting the title as per Code Civ. Proc. § 761.010(a). The complaint is required to satisfy certain components as mentioned in the California Code of Civil Procedure.
The complaint to quiet title in California should contain the following as per Code Civ. Proc. § 761.020:
- Description of the issue property.
- Title of the Plaintiff that requires determination.
- Adverse claims to the title held by the Plaintiff.
- Date as of which the quiet title determination is sought.
- Prayer for determination of the title against adverse claims.
Quiet Title Judgement Cannot be Obtained by Default
There is a ban on judgment by default in a quiet title action. Normally, if the Defendant fails to appear or respond to a lawsuit in court, the Plaintiff can request for a default judgment. This judgment is generally binding if there are no problems with the process service.
Based on this, the unambiguous language of Code Civ. Proc. § 761.010 establishes that the court cannot enter a judgment by default and will in all cases require evidence of the Plaintiff’s title. The power of the quiet title judgment is the primary reason for this unusual restriction. Judgment on these actions becomes final and is good against the world.
Should You Consult with a Quiet Title Attorney?
The chief objective of a quiet title action is to obtain clear ownership of the property. It also helps in settling any flaws found during a property title search.
In relation to this, the process of filing a quiet title is not always straightforward or easy. It takes a skilled attorney specializing in real estate to examine the title, review search results, and take the necessary steps for obtaining a title insurance policy.
This will help in preventing possible clouds on the title. A seasoned attorney will know clearly what needs to be done in case of title defects. It’s wise to speak with an attorney regarding the claim since conflicts in property ownership routinely lead to litigation.
Our Reputable Quiet Title Co-Ownership and Partition Attorneys are Here to Give You the Right Legal Advice and Support
You don’t need to fight a quiet title battle on your own. The real estate attorneys at Peterson, Martin & Reynolds have vast experience in handling such lawsuits throughout California. When you sign up with us, our legal team will immediately move to take the necessary steps and help you obtain a clear title to your property.
To set up your free initial consultation with our attorneys, call us at (415) 849-2564 or reach us online.