Jan 12, 2020

What is Quiet Title?

Despite the sound of the name, there is nothing secretive or hushed about ‘Quiet Title.’ This is actually a legal action to ‘quiet the title’ under Texas law.

Quiet Title refers to a lawsuit to clarify the ownership of land and the validity of any liens on a piece of property. Legal action to quiet title is basically a suit filed to establish the true ownership of real property.

Typically, the reason for a quiet title lawsuit is to remove a cloud from the title. A cloud is any potential claim to ownership of a property such as a lien, encumbrance, mortgage, legal dispute, tax levy, partial ownership claim, etc. These are usually discovered in a title search of the property conducted by the title company or title plant. 

If the cloud cannot be removed at or before closing, title companies will not ensure the transfer of ownership. The title company wants to make certain the seller has full rights to transfer ownership and that no other person or entity has a claim to the property. If ownership is in dispute, it must be resolved.

A court order can quiet the title and determine who has title to the property. The plaintiff must show any proof necessary to establish their ownership and rights to the property. The court having jurisdiction over property disputes in that county will establish title rights and ownership. 

The most common causes of legal action to quiet a title is to clear up issues associated with a quitclaim deed, tax sale, or other less common ways that title was previously transferred.

In Texas, a ‘quitclaim deed’ isn’t really a deed at all. It is a document that transfers whatever interest someone has in a property to someone else. The person signing this ‘deed’ may have all, some, or none of the interest in the property. They are simply relinquishing all claims to the property. It makes no promises about whether they have title to the property. These are mostly used when a family member is gifting real estate, following a divorce, etc. However, a quitclaim deed can leave the possibility that other people or entities could have a claim to the property.

Quiet Title lawsuits can take a couple of months or longer. The process can be longer or shorter depending on the details of the case. 

As a buyer of real estate, you wouldn’t want to be forced to defend your ownership against some party in the future. If there is a risk of that, a real estate attorney can assist with the task to ‘quiet’ any challenges or claims to the title before you buy the house. 
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