When a person acquires real estate under certain conditions, and there may be other people who can possibly lay claim to that property, under Michigan law, he or she may file a quiet title action in order to get the title to the property free and clear. In filing a quiet title action, the plaintiff is asking a judge to make a legally binding decision that he or she is the sole owner of the property, and that all prior owners’ rights to the property are extinguished.
The issue of filing a quiet title action can arise when the property at issue is purchased at a tax sale. The title deed issued as part of a tax sale may be a quit claim deed, where the purchaser essentially takes the risk that the title can be challenged by others with a claim to the property. When a seller sells land with a quit claim deed, the seller transfers whatever ownership the seller has to the purchaser, which may be a bad title.
Another reason to file for quiet title is to clear title to property that has been acquired through adverse possession. Adverse possession refers to the process by which a person gets ownership over land by exercising actual, non-permissive, exclusive, adverse, continuous, open, and notorious use of the land for a long period of time. A person who obtains ownership in this way may file quiet title to solidify his or her claim of ownership over the land after the required number of years to establish adverse possession.
Filing the quiet title action may be the only way to get clear title and be able to sell the property later on without any problems. Diligent buyers will always do a title search before purchasing a property. If the title is clouded or uncertain, then the buyer is not likely to spend money to inherit a problem. If the buyer is purchasing the property using a mortgage loan, the lender is not likely to approve the sale with less than clear title.
A quiet title action is filed against all people with a claim to the title over the real estate at the same time. Once an action for quiet title is filed, notice has to be given to all other people who may have a claim to the property to give them the opportunity to challenge the plaintiff’s claim. The person filing the quiet title action must be able to show that he or she has a superior claim to the property in order to prevail and get clear title.
Once a court grants the plaintiff clear title to the property, it should be legally sufficient to transfer the title, but it may still raise some questions with future buyers.
Contact Us for Legal Assistance
It can be quite difficult to sell real estate when you do not have clear title to the property. You may be able to get clear title by filing a quiet title action. For a consultation, contact Resnick Law, P.C., to speak to an experienced real estate and zoning attorney in Bloomfield Hills and Detroit, Michigan.
(image courtesy of Christopher Harris)