Property ownership is a big deal. Owning your own home is still a big part of the American dream.
Imagine that you just purchased your first home. You are all moved in and you’re finally beginning to settle in and get comfortable. Suddenly, you receive a letter from someone claiming that they actually legally own your home. What do you do? Are they right? How is that even possible?
Although these types of situations are rare, they do happen. Perhaps the previous property transfer was incomplete, or there was a long-lost son or daughter that was left out of a property transfer when a parent passed away. Regardless of the situation, you now need to deal with proving that you are the true owner of the property—and you can do that through a quiet title action.
The Basics of a Quiet Title Action in Florida
In a quiet title action, you are asking the Court to legally declare that you are the true owner of the property. You use this type of lawsuit when you know that someone else is trying to claim your real estate. It is also sometimes referred to as a suit to “remove cloud on title.”
A cloud on the title can be any claim against the property, including:
- Full rights of ownership
- Claims of partial ownership
- Unsatisfied mortgages
- Judgments or liens
When a judge answers this question, that potential ownership claim essentially goes away, leaving you with a good title and full rights to the property. The decision is noted in the Public Records in the county in which the property is located. That notation will remain there indefinitely.
Why Would I Need a Quiet Title Action?
While it is certainly scary to have someone else claim a right in your property, quiet title actions serve another purpose. If you choose to sell your home years down the road, you do not want the new buyer to have to deal with anyone trying to make a claim for the property or the proceeds of the sale.
In fact, in the State of Florida, you are required to be able to sell the property without “encumbrances” before the transaction can take place. An encumbrance includes any liens, judgments, or claims against a piece of property.
You may also want to file a quiet title action even if no one has specifically challenged the title, but there might be some confusion about who owns what. Dealing with these issues before they become a conflict can be very beneficial in some circumstances.
How to File a Quiet Title Action in Florida
Before you file a quiet title action, consider speaking with an attorney that specializes in real estate. An attorney can begin the process with a title search. A title search will review all the documents that have been filed with Public Records, and it will often spot potential problem areas in the title that you should be aware of before you file the action.
Once the review process is complete, an attorney can then draft and file the quiet title action. An attorney will likely need specific information from you about the details of the sale and the previous seller to draft this document. Once this document is filed, you will have a hearing or trial before a judge to present evidence. The judge will then issue a decision after considering all of the evidence.