Quiet Title Actions
Florida Quiet Title Action Attorney
Ensuring you have clear title to your Florida real estate or your new investment property can be frustrating, leaving you with plenty of stress and uncertainty. Luckily, the Florida Quiet Title Action attorneys at The McIntyre Law Firm are ready and willing to help. If you have questions regarding filing a Quiet Title Action or need the assistance of a qualified legal team to help ensure the process goes smoothly, call our skilled Fort Myers real estate attorneys today at 239.935.8426.
What is a Quiet Title Action?
Florida Courts use what is called a title process to establish legal ownership of certain land and property. More than one person may own the property or land in question, depending on whether the title is under sole ownership, jointly-owned, or held by a trust. For any one person to achieve a “clear” title, though, there must be nothing that poses a question of the rightful owner or owners of the property, meaning the title is free from any type of lien, debts, judgments, or levies from creditors.
To ensure that your Florida real estate has clear title, a Quiet Title Action may need to be filed. Quiet Title Actions are a type of civil lawsuit that establish the property’s true and equitable owner by terminating the rights of any parties or corporations also claiming title. These claims, whether they be regarding an unreleased lien, mortgages, or title defects, may yield title to a third party, placing what is called a cloud on the title. In summary, Quiet Title Actions work to establish a certain person’s or corporation’s legal title to land or property against other adverse legal claims.
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Chapter 65 of the Florida Statutes
Florida law governing Quiet Title Actions and how they should proceed can be found in Chapter 65 of the Florida Statutes. The statute requires that a lawsuit be filed in a chancery or circuit court by a property owner looking to clear his or her title. Pursuant to Ch. 65.021:
Chancery courts have jurisdiction of actions brought by any person or corporation, whether in actual possession or not, claiming legal or equitable title to land against any person or corporation not in actual possession, who has, appears to have or claims an adverse legal or equitable estate, interest, or claim therein to determine such estate, interest, or claim and quiet or remove clouds from the title to the land. It is no bar to relief that the title has not been litigated at law or that there is only one litigant to each side of the controversy or that the adverse claim, estate, or interest is void upon its face, or though not void on its face, requires extrinsic evidence to establish its validity.
A property owner looking to clear title must be able to prove the claim’s validity. If they do so, the appropriate court and judge will issue a final judgment that will remove any person or corporation claiming legal title over the property in conflict with the recorded owner thereof. As such, the cloud on the title is eliminated and the title quieted.
Why Would a Property Owner File a Quiet Title Suit?
There are generally two main reasons why someone would want to file Quiet Title Action in Florida. The first is because a dispute regarding title of the property has taken place. This essentially means one or more parties aside from the plaintiff have claimed ownership over the same land or property. Quiet Title lawsuits, if successful, can award possession of the real property to the party entitled thereto.
The second reason a property owner may want to file a Quiet Title Action over their Florida real estate does not have to do with any disputes, but rather to correct a technical title defect that may exist. For example, if there are errors in the title records that render them defective, it can be extremely difficult to sell or refinance the property, so a Florida Quiet Title Action can help resolve these defects.
Keep in mind, however, that a Quiet Title lawsuit is unlike other civil lawsuits in that there are no damages or monetary penalties/awards at play. Rather, the action simply clears the title to the land by removing any existing record title that may cloud it.
What is Title Insurance?
There are two different types of title insurance. These are an owner’s policy and a lender’s policy. A lender’s policy is required by the lender from whom you are borrowing money to purchase the property. The owner’s policy, on the other hand, establishes the right of a person and his or her heirs to the property for as long as it is in their possession. It works to protect the seller and buyer in real property transfers from losses that may result in the future, such as title defects that may have been overlooked during the transaction, for example.
However, having title insurance on your property does not mean that there are or will be no future claims against the property. Rather, it makes the title insurable and often protects the property owner from things like:
- An unpaid mortgage
- Unpaid federal tax liens from previous owner
- Fraudulent or forged deed of property transferred prior to closing
- Errors in documentation
- Adverse claims against the property
- And more
So, in the case that an unexpected challenge to your title arises, your title insurance policy would provide coverage up to the sale price of your land or property.
How To File a Quiet Title Lawsuit in Florida
The commercial real estate and residential real estate market in Florida today is quite complex and can be difficult to navigate, especially when it comes to clearing a clouded title. A Quiet Title Action in Florida must only be brought after a thorough title search and investigation into the real estate in question is completed. More specifically, for a successful Quiet Title Action to occur, all of the following must first take place:
- A title search is completed for any potential adverse possession claims.
- The Quiet Title Action is properly filed and all interested parties are served.
- A formal, written judgment quieting title is signed and filed with the real property records in the county the property is located.
- A title insurance underwriter verifies that all potential adverse claimants to the real estate in question have been identified and, if any individual or corporation claims title thereto, they are appropriately notified.
Before a title search is conducted and to begin the Quiet Title Action process, you will need to provide your attorney from The McIntyre Law Firm with a copy of the deed issued by the state, county, or other political subdivision in which your property is located. Our legal professionals will then analyze the title search results before preparing a formal Quiet Title Complaint.
Once filed with the chancery or circuit court, the action must be served to any other individuals, entities, or corporations claiming title. When a final judgment is entered, the judge will sign a decree that establishes you as the real and recorded owner of the property, meaning the title is free of all liens, encumbrances, or interests of such adverse possession.
How To Be Successful in Quiet Title Action
To make sure your Quiet Title Action is successful, it is important that you equip the help of a qualified Florida real estate attorney like those at The McIntyre Law Firm. Once a formal attorney-client relationship is established, our experienced Fort Myers quiet title attorneys will do thorough research into the chain of title to ensure all the appropriate parties are included in the lawsuit and subsequently see the action through to completion.
The Fort Myers attorneys at The McIntyre Law Firm handle all matters pertaining to property ownership and Quiet Title Actions in the state of Florida. Our dedicated Florida legal team provides informed counseling and guidance to individuals and businesses alike regarding their rights and responsibilities, as well as providing knowledgeable advice on how best to maneuver the complex world of titles and real estate.
To learn more about Quiet Title Actions in Florida or to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Quiet Title Action lawyers, call 239.935.8426 or fill out our online intake form today.